Monthly Archives: February 2014

Exhibition Review of Little White Cubes II: Little Berlin at the DCCA

Little White Cubes II: An Exhibition Review by John Farnum

Maiza Hixson, the Gretchen Hupfel Curator at The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (DCCA), working with a grant from the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, presents three, month-long, curatorial meditations entitled Little White Cubes (LWC) I, II, & III in the Constance S. & Robert J. Hennessy Project Space at the DCCA (December 7, 2013 – April 6, 2014.) In these LWC exhibitions, regional artists and curators are invited to address the concept of gallery as a work of art or creative medium. In LCWII, the second iteration in re-imagining the white cube as created/creative space, Philadelphia (Kensington) based artist collective, the Little Berlin artist collaboration (LB), interpreted the ‘undefined exhibition’ space in the Hennessy exhibition as space curated by an artist-as-curator collective.

Ma Ja KaLB appropriated the LCWII space to exhibit their do-it-yourself (DIY) style group exhibition, replacing the white cube with artifacts and content from prior LB exhibition events/locales and simultaneously filling the space with live action and audience engagement. LB transformed the exhibition space into a satellite art space of their primary gallery in Philadelphia replete with an assortment of couch, armchair, antique folding chairs arranged before a raised performance stage, banks of TV sets on which prior art performances ran in continuous loops, burning incense, mixed electronica and pop soundscapes, and a homemade magazine rack offering a portable sampling of LB’s extensive DIY ‘zines’ collection. These publications, collected by LB, present limited edition DIY tracts from national auteurs/authors published in guerilla-Xerox cut/paste formats that contain personal musings, journals, poetry, obsessions and other subversions.

LB’s re-interpretation of the white cube countermands the traditional role of autocratic museum curator with their democratic voting process for exhibition content. LB’s LCWII presented various ‘interrogations’ of the ubiquitous, staid, serene, and isolated white cube exhibition space via live performances, audience engagement, and streaming Internet video feed from an exhibition outside the DCCA, hosted at their sister LB space located in Kensington, Pa. Photographs arranged along the walls and documentary video loops repeated on a multi-screened bank of television recounted/recalled past LB events such as faux pro-wresting style events, community involvement through artistic intervention in an abandoned lot improvement effort, music performances, and the documented destruction of a piano by hammer-wielding performers. A standard artifact during LB exhibitions, a raised stage presented a locus within the space for various live engagements (i.e., musical performances, mixed DJ soundscapes, and stand-up artist improvisations.) Notables included an eerie and hypnotic performance by Marshall James Kavanaugh as his man/god/shaman/jazz musician-poet persona: MA JA KA. Following this, Rev. Eric Danger Clark’s performance, Bitter Tantrum, consumed the gallery’s floor space as the artist struggled to crawl through and drag a 12’ transparent balloon-filled tube of membranous plastic throughout the gallery space. While Clark struggled to emerge from his birth-canal/chrysalis, gathered members of LB, on cue, punctured balloons surrounding the artist’s struggle with upholstery pins.

Eric Danger Clark

With Little White Cubes II, Little Berlin artists successfully re-defined the ‘undefined exhibition space’ of the DCCA’s Hennessy’s as a collective, DIY exhibition space, energizing the exhibition space via artist/locale/visitor engagements, staged live performances, installed engagement-stations, and constructed virtual spaces.

SIGN UP FOR THE NEXT LITTLE WHITE CUBES COURSE THIS SATURDAY, FEB. 15, 10 am – 2 pm at DCCA!

White Cube Gallery

Registration link: https://www.signup82north.com/beventLive.aspx?EventID=NBI11780050

Saturday, February 15, 10 a.m.

Cultivate Understanding & Be Engaging (CUBE): Reaching Your Audience
Group Classroom Assignment: Design a socially engaged activity for children and adults that would enable them to interact with/in Little White Cubes III.
 
Drawing from essays such as Participatory Design and the Future of Museums by Nina Simon and Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World edited by Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, we will discuss multiple perspectives of participation with exhibitions—from the vantage point of visitors, artists, curators, and museum staff members. Assignments: 

Little White Cubes Activity White Cube Exhibition Activity

What Makes A Successful Exhibition Activity SUCCESSFUL EXHIBITION CRITERIA

SIGN UP FOR THE NEXT LITTLE WHITE CUBES COURSE: SATURDAY, FEB 8, 10 am – 2 pm at the DCCA!

Saturday, February 8, 10 a.m.

inCUBEate: Conceptualize Your Own Gallery or Exhibition

Course Registration link: https://www.signup82north.com/beventLive.aspx?EventID=NBI11780050

Image:Logo LWC Multiple

Group Classroom Assignment: Drawing upon the text What Makes a Great Exhibition?, edited by Paula Marincola, and what we’ve learned in and outside of class thus far, we will conceptualize themes for a gallery or exhibition—and these ideas will later be exhibited as part of LWC III. Responses can be creative, straightforward, outrageous or subtle.

We will discuss criteria to analyze the success of an exhibition. Some questions Marincola’s book asks and which we will ask ourselves include: What are some examples of different types of exhibitions, galleries, and museums?; Can an exhibition be art?; How do you start conceiving of an exhibition’s theme and focus?; What is the relationship between the curator and the artist in producing an exhibition?; How should artists’ works shape and inform a curatorial premise?; Are the criteria by which we measure significance consistent and comparable across a typology of exhibitions?; What are the major critical and practical issues intrinsic to specific types of projects and how do they affect our conceptualization and direct our perception of their significance?; Granting the inherently ephemeral nature of exhibitions, what role must documentation play as an integral component in determining the reception and significance of the show?; What is the responsibility of the curator to frame and interpret the art works and underlying thematics of an exhibition for a spectrum of potential viewers of varying degrees of sophistication, interest, and tolerance?; Why shouldn’t even such prosaic components as wall labels or a gallery hand out be memorable as well as informative?

We will develop our criteria into an informational display in the LWC III exhibit opening in March and students may present the questions in the form of wall text, an online survey, a social media project, a gallery presentation, or even a performance.