Making Progress

Aaron Zulpo

making v7


Project: ARTspace announces Making Progress, curated by Liz Atzberger and Kevin Curran, a group exhibition featuring works by Peter Fend, Neil Freeman, Kyle Hittmeier, Christopher K. Ho, Occupy Museums, William Powhida, Brittany Prater, School of Apocalypse, Adam Simon, and The Institute for Wishful Thinking, represented by Maureen Connor, Tommy Mintz and Sheko Kirby.

Picture something better. Geo-political instability, violence, xenophobia, global warming, economic hardship and inequality loom large, while our country’s political gridlock makes solving these problems seem like a distant fantasy. It’s easy to bemoan our world’s multitude of problems, but harder to cure them. The artists in Making Progress confront the complacency of hopelessness with keen observation of the facts and a need to create different, better futures — from small and actionable to fantastical and utopian. Exhibiting a wide range of approaches and responses, from a top-down re-envisioning of institutions to more personal reactions, the works in this exhibition go beyond institutional and cultural critique. Whether realistically possible, or wishful thinking, or escapist, they not only critique systems of power and control but also devise creative strategies for survival. Making Progress demonstrates a tempered optimism: that amidst the chaos and uncertainty of the moment, art can expand our perception of what is possible.

Neil Freeman’s Electoral College Reform re-draws the borders of our states giving each state the same population. Originally conceived as a reform to the electoral college, this map, beyond its radical geographic reorganization of our country, would also have profound effects on the workings of our Senate.

William Powhida describes in his drawing, The Yellow Building, how he and a group of like-minded collaborators are working to secure affordable studio space in a neighborhood in which they have helped raise property values. In his other drawing, Why Artists Are So Fucking Poor, Powhida shows how the financial prospects for most aspiring artists are bleak, and how W.A.G.E. intends to improve this situation.

In their, Eroding Plazas and Accumulating Resistance, Occupy Museums teases out the relationships between ultra luxury real estate investments near the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan and rapid gentrification/displacement near the Brooklyn Museum. The sculpture is a relief map that is meant to be a mobile tool used in outdoor educational actions.

Caught in an abandoned marina avenue in Abu Dhabi, Kyle Hittmeier’s Sun Tower, Momentous Flat proposes new historical coordinate systems refuting the trending mega-architectural spectacles of rapid urban

In response to an invitation to reveal a “Big Data” scheme in Beijing, Peter Fend decided to yoke the Beijing and NY sea-basins in a competition: who would be first to develop zero-emissions fuel from seaweed, as proposed in a NY State sponsored conference of US and Chinese scientists in 1981. The very successful enemy of such changes has been the oil industry (e.g., fracking). To get around that, Fend proposes a race between to post-petroleum players. Some remapping of both East Asia and North America occurs.

Christopher K. Ho’s six animated diagrams comprising Joseph as Model propose characteristics of parenthood—including being responsible and embracing a supporting role—as the basis for a practical political art. In particular, Saint Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, emerges as a model. Ho’s Three Critiques utilizes infographics to imagine what we can build up after the negative effects of postmodern critiques of universalism, history and genius are dismantled. The work proposes three new rubrics for art: re-institutionalization, pragmatism, and responsible subject.

In Adam Simon’s painting Optimist, the artist systemically circled all of the items on several pages of classifieds. The shape of the circles and the manner in which they were grouped was determined by the economics of this form of advertising. Simon’s use of a ready-made composition speaks to the fragility of our financial security.

Brittany Prater looks for patterns in science, economic graphs and history that might better explain the state of chaos that is the ever-changing present. The nature of her investigation ranges from the history of nuclear development to economic theory, to atoms themselves, engendering a certain psychological state that is created by all these forces combined.

The Institute for Wishful Thinking will address the complicated history behind the monument to Dr. J. Marion Sims, considered the “father of modern gynecology,” located in Central Park. The sculpture has been the subject of calls for removal in recent years due to the ethically questionable foundation of Sims practice. The I.W.T. hopes to foster dialogue in an effort to re-imagine this monument in a way that honors the women whose suffering contributed to significant advances in reproductive health.

In light of growing cultural, ecological and technological phenomena that challenge basic assumptions about human existence, School of Apocalypse examines the connections between creative practice and notions of survival. SoA will offer a garment-making workshop to consider how garments and insignia are connected to the process of defining new contexts for inquiry and applying broader levels of experience to intellectual investigation. Their collective making, open to the public, will serve as a pretext for discussion on the themes of survival, creativity, and imagined futures. Garments will be made in the style of a shelter- half, capable of serving as workwear, school uniform, flag, and easily strung up to make a tent.