A Group Exhibition with Senalka Mcdonald, Alex Wang, Carolina Caycedo, John Leaños, Rafael Suarez, Martin Sammy Gardea, Mark Benson, Neil Rivas & Lana Dandan, Casie Thornton, and COLLEO.
Everything communicated through my work can be boiled down to the concept of control. More specifically, I unpack the idea of control and engage its various forms: self-control, control of others, control by others, no control, and total control. Whether I’m referencing a love that cannot be, an expression dampened, or wants just out of reach, the central message is that access is not always granted- even when we have the keys. Humor is a persistent side effect in the work and can take the viewer to a softer place before exposing the severe nature of a given piece. Primarily through sculpture, but also utilizing painting, photography, video, and live situations, I explore these varying avenues of restraint and their ramifications on our human experience.
Carolina Caycedo’s practice moves beyond the bounds of the studio, gallery and institution extending into the realm of the social, where she explores systems of movement and exchange, as well as processes of assimilation and resistance. She engages with issues and contexts that affect a broad public on an everyday level: in her work,art functions as a tool for offering alternative models to inhabit a world in which individuals and communities are increasingly subject to commodification, exploitation, and discrimination. She is currently researching the effects that mega-infrastructures have over natural and social landscapes; specifically within extractivism policies in Latino-America.
She has developed publicly engaged projects in Bogota, Madrid, Lisbon, San Juan, New York, San Francisco, and London. She had solo shows at Vienna Secession, Intermediae-Matadero Madrid, Alianza Francesa Bogota, Hordaland Kunstsenter Bergen,18th Street Arts Center Los Angeles, and DAAD Gallery in Berlin. Other venues include Creative Time, Apex Art and Queens Museum NYC, House of World Cultures and NGBK in Berlin. She participated in 2014 Berlin Biennial, 2013 Paris Triennial, 2009 Havana Biennial, 2009 San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, 2009 New Museum Generational, 2006 Whitney Biennial, 2003 Venice Biennial, 2001 Istanbul Biennial. In 2012 Caycedo was a DAAD Artist-in-Berlin resident.
“San Francisco in 2020 is going to become a city of presentation without creation […] I think there will be relatively little room for experimentation and innovation… I think you’ll see very little of the down and dirty grassroots creativity that you need for a city to feel like an active and vital cultural center.” (Lawrence Rinder, San Francisco Chronicle, November 15, 1999)
COLLEO is Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti, a collaborative combo established in 2012. COLLEO generates situations in which an object trouvé – often a toy – is altered or detached from its original context. COLLEO likes to flirt with the disasters of Late Modernity, i.e. technological determinism, free market ideology, and pervasive precarity. Pompous writings and utopian designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed. New situations emerge and inevitably collapse. (This artist statement was written by a bot and it changes at random intervals).
Martin Sammy Gardea
My practice is a process of making sense out of nonsense, through a crescendo of heavy riffs while marching through the tundra. Always prepared with a sharp wit, my work is positioned within a subculture while constructing its own folklore. Notions of remembrance are found through the implication of archival layers. I work conceptually, re-contextualizing the truth of an objects origin, through a process of tongue-in-cheek word play. Through the forming of agency in personal anecdotes, I create situations of obscurity and humor that facilitates my life imitating art.
Martin Sammy Gardea is from a tiny town in Northeast Colorado. Growing up in the desolate area of this town, has helped him form his awkward sense of humor. In 2007 he received his BFA in Sculpture from Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design in Denver, Colorado. And recently received his MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2014. He has exhibited work nationally with a variety of group and solo shows including this one!
The course of my work threads its way through the margins that separate truth and fiction, exerting stress on seemingly unyielding conventions that reside in the personal, social, and political realms. Through the surreptitious masking of objects, and/or pseudo-posturing of an anti-position, my work attempts to force ambiguity towards the surface in hope that those who come in contact with it will gravitate towards doubt, uncertainty, and skepticism. I am interested in work that raises questions of validity, veracity, and authenticity; however, I intend for these suspicions to ultimately migrate towards questions of the assumed power relations within issues identity, authority and “freedom.” My work seduces the viewer into penetrating the barriers that surround personal identities so as to explore difference as an unstable cultural construct. I find that my work is happiest when it uses humor and/or beauty to ironically unveil its meaning.
John Jota Leaños is an award-winning Chicano new media artist using animation, documentary and performance focusing on the convergence of memory, social space and decolonization. Leaños’ animation work has been shown internationally at festivals and museums including the Sundance Film Festival, the Morelia International Film Festival, Mexico, San Francisco International Festival of Animation, the KOS Convention 07, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Leaños has also exhibited at the 2002 and 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leaños is a Guggenheim Fellow in Film (2012), Creative Capital Foundation Grantee and has been an artist in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Center for Chicano Studies, Carnegie Mellon University in the Center for Arts in Society, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Leaños is currently an Associate Professor of Social Documentary at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Senalka McDonald is a self-identified geographer-slash-artist investigating themes of social transgression, identity play, and imagined spaces. Using performative gestures and utterances, she examines the perceived role of an-other, focusing on the very real trauma of being taught ones “place”. That “place,” embodied physically, lives internally, practically in our subconscious, at the edge of social breakdown.
Simultaneously comic and tragic, the work engages two spheres of reality: the outer, where you look at her, and the inner, where she looks at herself. In this liminal space, fantasies, half-truths and lies are one and the same, exposing a game of identity play that is filled with unsure substitutions and willing stagnation. The work divulges the resulting transgressive games, ultimately, moving us closer to the source of implied truth with the final mark of the happening in any of the following: video, photography, textiles, drawing and/or live performance.
Neil “Clavo” Rivas & Lana Dandan
Neil “Clavo” Rivas is an interdisciplinary artist whose work stems from his roles as a documentarian, educator, and activist. Using photography, collected objects, and pop culture iconography, he is invested in aesthetic politics and creating tactical interventions within social, cultural, and political contexts. His work has been used for educational purposes, journalism, activist tools, and as legal evidence. His diverse projects have come in a range of forms, including multimedia installations, life size cardboard cut-outs, performances, and community-based projects. Rivas’ work has been shown and performed at numerous venues nationally and internationally. He has done several residencies, has received awards, and his work has been featured in media in the U.S., Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China, The Netherlands, and Australia.
Lana Dandan is a first-generation Lebanese-American navigating the hyphen between two disparate identities. A multimedia artist working in video, photography, and installation, her work has been focused on inherited trauma, the precariousness of history, and the instability of memory in post-Civil War Beirut, using digital manipulation to deconstruct photos and video of the city’s architecture and inhabitants. More recently, influenced by her background in the film and television industry, her work has utilized tropes of popular media to examine representations of marginalized communities and their vilification by the U.S. government. Lana received her BA in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College and her MFA from California College of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in the Bay Area, Boston, Los Angeles, Beirut and Berlin.
Since the early 1990’s, Rafael Suarez has been consistently maintaining his own individual dialogue in his personal work with two parallel tracks, but also collaborates with many other artists. He has participated in creative collective projects like Fast Food (1996-1998), Window 99 (1999), and Gross Domestic Circus (1999-2004). Additionally, Suarez has fastened ties with LHFA, and Velvet & Crochet (2001-2009) alongside François Winberg, whom continues to work intermittently in a hybrid line between the sculptural and paratheatrical formats. Suarez has exhibited in various international art spaces. Currently, he is spearheading several projects such as Wieviel Kostet Ein Wort?, Eight Attempts to Achieve Transcendence, Workbook, VIP Room, 2000-8439.5 Kcal Kj, Paterikon or The Return of the Chosen, which are published and available in book format.
Cassie Thornton is an artist who is sometimes referred to as the Feminist Economics Department (the FED), and who works in collusion with Strike Debt in Oakland, California. Her work investigates and reveals the impact of governmental and economic systems on public affect, behavior, and unconscious, with a focus on debt and security. Cassie’s recent works offer regular people an alternate route to find ‘financial success’ by revealing the value of complex personal narratives instead of credit scores, dreams over data, and value divorced from nasty cheating money. These opportunities are extended to the privileged and the poor– Cassie and the FED wish to invite all people to imagine debt as a physical obstacle that can be smashed like a piñata, to experience credit approval based on trustworthiness, and to witness the FED’s myriad of installations, services, workshops and essays that demonstrate how living is not a financial instrument.
Cassie Thornton was born in Illinois and has lived in NYC, and presently lives and works in Oakland.
My current work revolves around The Andy Chou Foundation, an art and environmental justice charity organization founded by the persona Andy Chou. Currently The Foundation is preparing for it’s inaugural Crayfish Benefit, a charity pop-up dinner serving gourmet grub for the greater good, i.e. to promote complete and utter eradication of the invasive Signal Crayfish from Californian waters.
Alex Wang (b. 1983) is a visual artist, curator and educator currently based in San Francisco. He has been working with Kearny Street Workshop since 2012 as a curator, and is currently serving on the board of directors. Alex is the founder of a fledgling arts and environmental justice organization, The Andy Chou Foundation. He holds a BA in Ceramics from Boston College as well as an MFA in Social Practice from the California College of the Arts.