Edgework Artist Profile #2: Peter Cusack

Aral Sea, Peter Cusack

Aral Sea, Peter Cusack

As part of our collaboration with Edgework an artist-led cross-disciplinary journal and store with an emphasis on place, we are running a series of monthly profiles of the artists here on Elsewhere. The second in the series is of Peter Cusack, sound artist and musician:

Sounds from Dangerous Places, Peter Cusack

Sounds from Dangerous Places, Peter Cusack

As a field recordist, sound artist and musician, Peter Cusack has long had an interest in the environment. A member of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) at the University of the Arts, London, Cusack initiated the Favourite Sounds Project to discover what people find positive about soundscapes where they live, and Sounds From Dangerous Places (sonic journalism) to investigate major environmental damage in areas such as the Chernobyl exclusion zone, the Azerbaijan oil fields, brown coal mining in Germany and the Czech Republic and the Bialowieza Forest in Poland. 

Berlin Sonic Places, Peter Cusack

Berlin Sonic Places, Peter Cusack

He also produced Vermilion Sounds - the environmental sound program - for ResonanceFM Radio, and was DAAD artist-in-residence in Berlin 2011/12, initiating Berlin Sonic Places that examines relationships between soundscape and urban development. He is currently working on Aral Sea Stories, concerning the disappearance and restoration of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and the uses and abuses of water along its vast Central Asian watershed. As well as teaching in Berlin, Peter has also been organising a series of soundwalks in the neighbourhood of Pankow. If you’d like to learn more about Peter and his work, follow the various links below.

Peter Cusack on Edgework
Twitter
Favourite Sounds website




See the Light: James Turrell in Berlin

James Turrell, Ganzfeld Aural, 2018; © Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Dieter and Si Rosenkranz, photo: Florian Holzherr

James Turrell, Ganzfeld Aural, 2018; © Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Dieter and Si Rosenkranz, photo: Florian Holzherr

By Sara Bellini:

The way we experience space is connected with the way we perceive light. A thick fog, complete darkness, disco lights give a different depth to a place, which in turn influences the way we exist in it and our internal space. Our perception of space and light is what James Turrell has been exploring in his art for the past five decades.

This summer Berlin has the privilege to host two of his site-specific installations, among the many dispersed all over the globe (Roden Crater deserves a read). The first opened at the Jewish Museum in April 2018 and will be open until 30 September this year. “Aural” is part of the Ganzfeld series and consists of a room infused with homogeneous, coloured light. The eye needs time to adjust and the lack of walls or any other object can be disorientating. James Turrell wants to leave you alone with your looking and your awareness of yourself taking in the light. In a space without landmarks, perception is all.

The second installation is located inside a burial chapel in the Dorotheenstädtischer cemetery, in itself a place of significance in Berlin. Located next to Bertolt Brecht’s house, this graveyard is the burial place of the poet and playwright and of other famous Germans, such as Christa Wolf, Helene Weigel, Hegel and Fichte. It is hidden from the main entrance on the Chausseestraße behind the older Huguenot cemetery, and the bricks of the Humboldt University’s north campus are visible beyond the back wall. The church itself was built at the beginning of the 20th century and was renovated several times before the 2015 reopening. The studio of the architect Nedelykov Moreira has worked with James Turrell to come up with a modern minimal design that wouldn’t distract from the light show.

With ten light programmes that change according to the liturgical calendar and fifteen light moods, James Turrell’s installation works closely with the shades of the sunset. For this reason, and because of the late summer sunsets, the light show has different entry times during the year and is closed in July and August. You find yourself sitting in a place that looks like an anonymous church, gazing at the complementary colours of the lights positioned in the aps, transept, nave, narthex and walls, convincing yourself that the glass of the windows themselves must be stained this or that colour, only to change your mind a light mood later. Then you go out in the fading daylight, you look at the sky and for a moment you have the illusion that the neon have permeated your retina. Subjective perception is all.

***

Both shows have limited access so check tickets availability and opening times:
James Turrell at the Jewish Museum
James Turrell at the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof

Njideka Akunyili Crosby: painting the ‘contact zone’

Njideka Akunyili Crosby   "The Beautyful Ones" Series #6 , 2018Acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper 151.8 x 108 cm 59 3/4 x 42 1/2 in © Njideka Akunyili Crosby Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
"The Beautyful Ones" Series #6, 2018Acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper
151.8 x 108 cm
59 3/4 x 42 1/2 in
© Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

By Rachel Kevern:

During her studies at Yale University School of Art, Njideka Akunyili Crosby encountered Mary Louise Pratt’s ‘Arts of the Contact Zone’ (1990), which identifies ‘social spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other’. This idea of a ‘contact zone’ is present in all Akunyili Crosby’s work, reflecting the artist’s own experience of feeling a sense of belonging to two distinct cultures. Having left Nigeria in 1999, at the age of 16, to study in the United States, Akunyili Crosby’s work is often autobiographical, depicting domestic scenes of herself, her Nigerian family, and her American husband. The universe depicted in her compositions is, according to her, neither Nigeria nor America, but some other space, the space that every immigrant occupies.

Her pieces are large-scale depictions of domestic life, and combine painting, drawing and photo-transfer techniques. Often, Akunyili Crosby will merge very personal, intimate images with cut-outs from magazines and favourite designers; images that she has collected and stored over the years. In an interview with arts journal The White Review, the artist explained that she usually chooses “pictures that tap into Nigerian culture in the eighties and nineties – popular musicians, iconic album covers, movie stars.” She searches for images that give her “a feeling of recognition”, that will connect her with other people of her generation who grew up in Nigeria through their shared memories. The depth and richness of her compositions defies simple classification and forces the viewer to take a closer look.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby   "The Beautyful Ones" Series #7 , 2018 Acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper 152.1 x 108 cm 59 7/8 x 42 1/2 in © Njideka Akunyili Crosby Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
"The Beautyful Ones" Series #7, 2018
Acrylic, colour pencil and transfers on paper
152.1 x 108 cm
59 7/8 x 42 1/2 in
© Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Collecting picture became a way for Akunyili Crosby to stay connected to the Nigeria of her childhood, Nigeria as she knew it, which “wasn’t the same Nigeria that [she] was experiencing in the US, in terms of the questions people asked [her].” Speaking to The White Review, she explains that she “became aware that people had no clue, not just about Nigeria but about Africa as a continent”. Her pieces stem from a deep desire to share the Nigeria that she knew with other people, “in a way that felt real or sincere”: “I wanted to give people a glimpse of this other space that they weren’t familiar with.” The paintings are both deeply personal and reflect wider issues of identity, belonging, immigration, and Nigerian culture. Her compositions themselves act as personal, cultural and political ‘contact zones’, forming a space in which different cultures mingle to become one image.

Her first solo exhibition in Europe, which took place in 2016 and was entitled Portals, featured a multitude of doors, windows and screens. In the description of the exhibition, the Victoria Miro gallery notes that these portals in her work function as “physical, conceptual and emotional points of arrival and departure, while in a broader sense the work itself is a portal through which mutable ideas about transcultural identity flow back and forth.” The doors and windows, - as much of Akunyili Crosby’s work - function as gateways to new ways of thinking about multicultural identity and what it means to forge your own space and place in the world.

***
Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s website

Rachel Kevern is an undergraduate at the University of Oxford, studying English literature and French. In her spare time she writes, acts, paints (but not as much as she'd like to), drinks a lot of coffee and reads any book or magazine that she can get her hands on. She has previously been published in The Liverpool Echo, The Warrington Guardian and online magazines such as Flux and The F-Word, as well as running her own blog and being Arts and Travel editor for The Oxford Student, her university's biggest newspaper.



Edgework Artist Profile #1: Layla Curtis

Newcastle Gateshead, 2005 by Layla Curtis

Newcastle Gateshead, 2005 by Layla Curtis

As part of our collaboration with Edgework an artist-led cross-disciplinary journal and store with an emphasis on place, we are running a series of monthly profiles of the artists here on Elsewhere. Where better to start than with Layla Curtis, founder of Edgework and previous contributor to our blog:

Layla Curtis’ practice has a focus on place, landscape and mapping and often examines the attempts we make to chart the earth, how we locate ourselves, navigate space and represent terrain. 

Polar Wandering, 2006 by Layla Curtis

Polar Wandering, 2006 by Layla Curtis

 Layla’s works include Trespass, an app for iphone which maps an oral history of a northern English edgeland and tempts the user to trespass in order to access the work (and which we featured here on the Elsewhere blog); Polar Wandering, a 27,856 mile long interactive online drawing charting her journey to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey, exhibited in solo shows at New Art Gallery Walsall, and Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; and Tong Tana, a moving image work made while trekking with nomadic hunter-gathers in the Borneo Rainforest and exhibited at Matt's Gallery, London. 

 As well as featuring in international collections including the Tate Collection and Government Art Collection forthcoming projects and exhibitions include the collaged map The United Kingdom, currently on display in Ideas Depot at Tate Liverpool, UK (until 21 July).

Tong Tana production still, 2012.

Tong Tana production still, 2012.

A documentation of Trespass will also be included in the forthcoming exhibition This Land is Our Land at PAPER, Manchester, UK (curated by Edgework contributor, and PAPER curator Simon Woolham) from 29 June - 3 August 2019. Curtis is currently working on a series of new commissions for Tate shop to be launched later this year.

Layla Curtis on Edgework
Twitter
Instagram

Photo essay: Dream Space / Espaço Sonho by Paul Castro

By Paul Castro:

“Across the river from Lisbon lies the Peninsula of Setúbal, where these images were taken between 2016 and 2019. In this series I attempt to catch sight of what lies behind the iconic statue of Christ the King, whose arms stretch wide on untold postcards. It is an investigation of a a post-industrial landscape of malaise and renewal, urban overspill and passing holidaymakers, filled with scraps of national history and identity, a place where ordinary people also lead everyday lives.”

About the photographer: Paul Castro is a scholar and practitioner of photography. HIs practice is classic street photography, emerging from a mix of walking, curiosity and kairos. He’s interested in the fleeting mises-en-scène that, staged by his camera, use the world as set, cast passers-by cast as actors, and draw from the general unfolding of everyday life in lieu of plot – Paul’s website

In Profile: Edgework – Journal & Store

TJENTISTE – Andy Day

TJENTISTE – Andy Day

Here at Elsewhere we have long been proud of our collaboration with Edgework, an artist-led, cross-disciplinary journal and online store with a focus on place founded by the artist (and Elsewhere contributor) Layla Curtis. The journal gives space for artists and professionals from a range of disciplines and allows them to give readers an insight into their extended research, fieldwork and working methods. The online store then promotes their work, specialising in editional artworks on paper, publications, posters, postcards and also the work of independent publishers who share their ethos and emphasis on place… including us!

WORLD POLITICAL (Detail) – Layla Curtis

WORLD POLITICAL (Detail) – Layla Curtis

‘Edgework contributors take risks; conduct deep explorations of our cities' overlooked, forgotten and forbidden spaces; misuse, reclaim or appropriate architecture; test the boundaries of access; subvert surveillance technologies and pick apart cartography. They explore the margins of our urban spaces examining how we inhabit them, move through them and establish a sense of place. They are overland wanderers or remote viewers who reflect upon our relationship with nature and landscape.’ – Layla Curtis, founder of Edgework

Artists whose editioned work can be found in the Edgework online shop include Susan Collins, Layla Curtis, Andy Day, Alec Finlay, Joy Gerrard, Lucinda Grange, Graham Gussin, Nicky Hirst, Lee Maelzer, Simon Woolham and George Shaw, and over the coming months we will be profiling them here on the Elsewhere blog. At the same time, we would encourage our readers to explore the different posts, essays and articles on the Edgework journal pages. Recent articles we have enjoyed include ‘The Walking Library for a Wild City’ by Dee Heddon & Misha Myers, and ‘Mapping the Wild City, Fiadh-Bhaile, Orasul Salbatic’ by Alec Finlay.

PROTEST CROWD (NO BREXIT PEOPLE’S VOTE MARCH PARLIAMENT SQUARE, LONDON, 2018) – Joy Gerrard

PROTEST CROWD (NO BREXIT PEOPLE’S VOTE MARCH PARLIAMENT SQUARE, LONDON, 2018) – Joy Gerrard

Another aspect of the project that we have especially enjoyed over recent months is the series of Instagram Takeovers on the Edgework feed. Here, they have invited artists to post images onto the Edgework account over a period of time, highlighting a specific project or body of work and it is well worth checking out. We are really looking forward to showcasing the talents of the artists involved in the Edgework project, and we especially like the opportunity that Edgework offers to connect directly with artists, purchase their work and support what they do.

Edgework artists whose work appears in this post:
Andy Day
Layla Curtis
Joy Gerrard


The Fabric of Place: Yinka Shonibare's The British Library

The British Library, 2014, by Yinka Shonibare, Tate Modern 2019 © Yinka Shonibare. Photograph Oliver Cowling, Tate. Purchased with Art Fund support and funds provided by the Tate International Council, the Africa Acquisitions Committee, Wendy Fisher and THE EKARD COLLECTION, 2019

The British Library, 2014, by Yinka Shonibare, Tate Modern 2019 © Yinka Shonibare. Photograph Oliver Cowling, Tate. Purchased with Art Fund support and funds provided by the Tate International Council, the Africa Acquisitions Committee, Wendy Fisher and THE EKARD COLLECTION, 2019

By Sara Bellini

It was 2014, during what ended up being my final months in England before leaving for good. In my attempts to deal with work-related stress I started taking day trips to escape central London, and it was thanks to two of these trips I came to know the work of Yinka Shonibare.

Without knowing it at the time, my first encounter with his art dated back to my very first week in the country in 2011. His work Nelson's Ship in a Bottle was on display on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, with its colourful sails made of the artist's signature Dutch wax fabric. The fabric (and the meanings behind it) would be the detail that stuck with me during the years, while the photos I took got lost in my poorly managed digital memory.

Dutch wax fabric visually identifies West Africa, including Shonibare's parents' native Nigeria, where he also lived as a child before moving back to the UK to study. What I didn't know about this textile is how complex its ties with colonisation, globalisation and identity are.

Dutch wax fabric takes one of its names from the Dutch merchants that started mass-producing it in the late 19th century, when it was first introduced to Africa through naval commercial routes. Their model was batik, a wax-resist dyed cloth from Indonesia, a Dutch colony until 1949. The initial purpose of the merchants was to break into the batik market with cheaper fabrics, but they couldn't compete with the original hand-made prints. Meanwhile the African market was prospering, driven by ex members of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in Indonesia who had returned to the Dutch Gold Coast in West Africa. Other European countries started making Dutch wax fabric and eventually local companies developed more African-inspired patterns. When African countries gained independence from their former oppressors after WWII, African wax print had interwoven its role into various African communities, especially in the West, enriched with local meanings and customs.

This is how we get to a British contemporary artist, born from Nigerian parents who had moved to the UK in post-colonial times. Shonibare explores all these themes in his works: (post-)colonialism, multiculturalism, history, identity.

The two exhibitions I saw when I was still living in London were at Royal Museums Greenwich and the installation The British Library at Brighton Museum. The British Library is a room lined up with bookcases where each book is covered in Dutch wax print and their spines carry the names of immigrants and children of immigrants that had made contributions to British culture. A computer was available to explore the library and find out about Zaha Hadid, Hans Holbein, Noel Gallagher and more famous and less famous names.

At the beginning of April 2019, Yinka Shonibare's work The British Library was purchased by Tate Modern. Another work from the same series, The African Library, is on display in the exhibition Trade Winds at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town until August 2019.


100 Years Bauhaus: Bauhaus Museum in Weimar

Foto: Andrew Alberts, © heike hanada laboratory of art and architecture 2019

Foto: Andrew Alberts, © heike hanada laboratory of art and architecture 2019

This year marks the centenary of the Bauhaus, and there are celebrations taking place all around the world – anywhere, in fact, that the design school’s influence can be felt. In Weimar, the city where it all began back in 1919, a new museum has opened in a building designed by Heike Hanada and inaugurated earlier this month.

The intention of the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is to be both a dialogue with the past and an interrogation of the future, and developed around the fundamental question: “How do we want to live together?”* In an echo of the founders of the Bauhaus, questions of how we build a society and where art and technology, architecture and everyday life function together, are key themes of the new space.

As a reflection on the past, present and future, the location of the Bauhaus Museum itself, close to the Nazi Gauform and the Jakobsplan student accommodation from the GDR, is a reminder of how the political-economic landscape, architecture and community life are always intertwined.

Bauhaus Museum, Weimar (Google Maps)
From April 2019
Museum website

*Wie wollen wir zusammenleben?


Exhibition: Queer Spaces at Whitechapel Gallery

Ralph Dunn / Public Toilets / 2004 / Photograph: Courtesy the artist

Ralph Dunn / Public Toilets / 2004 / Photograph: Courtesy the artist

How has the London cityscape influenced the social life of the LGBTQ+ community in the past thirty years? And what are the effects of the current redevelopment plans on queer spaces? These are the core questions explored in the exhibition Queer Spaces: London 1980s – Today, which opened at the Whitechapel Gallery on 2 April.

The exhibition includes the ongoing research on queer venues compiled by UCL Urban Laboratory from 1986. Parallel to this archive, works focussed on the recent past are presented by contemporary artists like Tom Burr, Evan Ifekoya, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Prem Sahib and Ralph Dunn.

Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings / The Scarcity of Liberty #1 / 2016 / Cork board mounted on wooden frame,magazine pages, pins / Courtesy the artists and Arcadia Missa

Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings / The Scarcity of Liberty #1 / 2016 / Cork board mounted on wooden frame,magazine pages, pins / Courtesy the artists and Arcadia Missa

In the past decade around half of the LGBTQ+ venues in London have shut down due to rising rents and capitalistic ventures. This exhibition aims to show why identity-specific cultural infrastructures are important and what is threatening them, and how the diverse queer community contributes to London activism, creativity and self-expression.

Queer Spaces: London 1980s - Today
Whitechapel Gallery, London (Google Maps)
2 April - 25 August 2019
Exhibition website



Like Home

In our home town of Berlin, Catherine Marshall visits an exhibition that explores notions of place and home through the work of different artists:

In a grand corner apartment block in Berlin’s Mitte near Friedrichstraße, eleven artists with a connection to South America and Berlin have set up temporary home, or ‘Like Home” as the exhibition is titled. It is organised by the project Loop Raum, and the focus of the work is on abstraction, patterning, repetition and colour. Visiting it transported me back to the time of abundant unrenovated spaces in Berlin, where you might come across pop-up exhibitions in unusual places and have the pleasure of discovering the unexpected. Stepping into the the first-floor apartment where the exhibition is held, the space exudes the former grandeur of its Grunderzeit architecture with its high ceilings, intricate stucco and beautiful parquet flooring. At the same time, the rooms are damp and cold in places, the corridors are quite spooky and maze-like and plaster lies exposed with remnants of wallpaper from bygone years. We start to explore.

Carla Guagliardi / "O Lugar do ar" (The place of air)

Carla Guagliardi / "O Lugar do ar" (The place of air)

In the first room, we see a delicate kinetic sculpture of iron rods supported by rubber bands that crisscross the entire room by the Brazilian artist Carla Guagliardi.  A piece called "O Lugar do ar" (The place of air), its structure imposes a new language over the room with its potential to shift and change shape. It's material and formal abstraction is incongruous to the historicist style of the room, yet it reinvents it. It is not solid and fixed, yet it has a strong presence. When we endeavour to make a new city feel like home, we wish to carve out a space for ourselves, both physically and mentally. Due to economic necessity, a transient way of life can also become a permanent state.

We turn the corner down a long corridor where a small drawing by Columbian artist Carlos Silva from his ‘Mazy Drawing’ series hangs. Its overlapping squares of blue ink appear to have been made with a scraping technique. The wall it hangs on carries its own marks: Swathes of white filler on plywood and torn wallpaper edges. The work draws attention to the layers of workmanship and materials of the flat itself. In this show, many of the artworks resonate with the apartment itself, its ghosts and history, making us question who might have lived here. It reminds us also that home is never static, is not just located in place but also in time. 

Carlos Silva / "Mazy Drawing II"

Carlos Silva / "Mazy Drawing II"

Leaving the corridor, Chilean artistGonzalo Reyes Araos’ grid-like “RGB Painting” revels in glitches that might appear on a computer screen, except that this is reproduced here meticulously in paint. It’s as if the romantic landscape genre of the eighteenth century practiced by artists such as Caneletto has been updated. Instead of architectural ruins we have crumbling technology. Have we passed the threshold where our home screens feel more like home than our actual home?

Other works in the show play with optical illusion, geometric forms and seem to want to reach beyond the boundaries possible between four walls or even within the limits of their own frames. Carla Bertone’s colourful painting ‘Turgoxid’ looks as if origami paper has been folded and refolded in a quest to reach the limits imposed by the square, if there are any. Maria Muroz’s “Lemniscata” is a play on the mathematical symbol of an infinity loop. Close up, however the progression of colour through the figure of eight is not so straightforward. New angles and colours become apparent, questioning our own logic.

When you move city or country or live between places then perhaps there is ‘no place like home’. Instead it is something better, a plurality of homes, experiences, memories, friends and origins. We have moved on from Dorothy’s trance-line repetitions of “there is no place like home” as she returns to her Kansas’ origin. We prefer the uncertainty of Oz, and its new possibilities. In ‘Like Home’ I felt these artists might enjoy that notion too.

The exhibition ‘Like Home’ has been extended to July 21 and has been expanded to include an additional fifteen more artists. It can be seen at GLINT, Glinkastraße 17, 10117. The show was originally paired with another project called ‘No Place’ with the joint title ‘No place/ Like Home’