For some, there may be something vaguely familiar about the giant image that is currently installed in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s windows. What appears as a huge, empty landscape is actually vinyl from a billboard ad for Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign salvaged by Toronto-based artist Kelly Jazvac. Originally measuring over 70 feet, the billboard was intended to promote the photographic abilities of the iPhone 6.
Stretched across the CAG’s facade, Ambient Advertising (2016) provides viewers with the rare opportunity to engage up close with the sheer scale of advertisement through the repurposed vinyl. In Jazvac’s hands, the vinyl has been meticulously sliced and made to fit in the CAG’s windows. The once glossy, enticing surface of the image is interrupted by cuts that allow for a more critical engagement with the vinyl’s texture and movement. What seems at first like a pristine image of a vast landscape becomes troubled by the disposable material it creates and the ironic implications it has for the environment it depicts.
Much of Kelly Jazvac’s work incorporates discarded vinyl into new compositions, reviving thrown-away material and touching on environment concerns like pollution. Her installation and sculptural pieces often have a playfulness to them—check out the cowboy hanging upside down inside the gallery—that encourages us to acknowledge the absurdity in the everyday.
Since the original was released in 2007, the iPhone has had 12 iterations. Which each new iPhone comes a new advertising campaign promising that this phone is better than the last. What Jazvac’s work highlights is how planned obsolescence guarantees more iPhones, more ad campaigns, more vinyl , and more waste.
Ambient Advertising will be up in our windows until September 10th, 2017.
“It is a grave matter to leave your land and your people and to go alone to an alien country. Although it becomes a simple matter later, at the beginning, when you think deeply, your heart lacks ease and repose.”
From An Ethiopian’s Voyage to Italy at the End of the 19th Century by Däbtära Fesseha Giyorgis Abiyäzgi
In 1890, Däbtära Fesseha Giyorgis Abiyäzgi traveled from Massawa, Eritrea to Italy. His written account of the journey is the first known secular text to be published in Tigrinya and the first travelogue in Eritrean literature.
Nearly 125 year later, Eritrean-born artist Dawit L. Petros began a journey not unlike Giyorgis’ across Africa and through Europe. A stop in Catania, Italy allowed Petros to connect with Eritrean migrants with whom he created a collection of images of them holding mirrors and archival documents.
These images became Untitled (2016) a series of photographs that have themselves circulated across borders and oceans on their own journey from London, to Kansas City, to Chicago and now to the Contemporary Art Gallery for the exhibition Song of the Open Road where six prints are now on view.
In Untitled (Overlapping and intertwined territories that fall from view II), Catania, Italy, a young man holds up a sheet from a 19th century Italian newspaper printed in Eritrea which reads “Spazio disponibile”. The text translates literally to “available space” which originally indicated potential advertising space. In Petros’ photograph, it takes on new meaning: the space offers an opportunity to present new and overlooked narratives. In a contemporary context, “available space” is as promising as it is fraught –we now have the highest displacement levels on record.
Like much of his work, the Untitled series draws on the artists’ extensive research and travel. Petros’ work reexamines the relationship between Africa and Europe, questioning how some stories of migration are privileged at the expense of others. Dawit L. Petros is currently based in Chicago, IL and New York City. In 2012, he was awarded an Independent Study Fellowship at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Song of the Open Road runs until June 18th, 2017.
On February 1st, 1977, Clarice Lispector sat down for her first and only television interview. That same year, Lispector would be diagnosed with inoperable ovarian cancer and would pass away on December 9th, on the eve of what would have been her 57th birthday.
Enigmatic and unflinching, Clarice Lispector is undoubtedly one of Brazil’s greatest writers. Marked by a mystical and highly introspective quality, most of Lispector’s novels and stories were sensations upon their publication. For both admirers and critics, Lispector the authour was elusive. She spent long periods of time abroad which only fueled the rumors and myths surrounding her.
Lispector and her only onscreen interview are central to Sunsets, a video work by Stockholm-based artist Lisa Tan. Part of a series exploring the personas of writers Virginia Woolfe, Susan Sontag and of course Lispector, Sunsets is conversational and draws from Tan’s own experiences, friendships and history. At once literary, personal and historical, Tan’s work looks at the intersections between language and image.
Although we catch glimpses of her on Tan’s computer screen, Lispector’s presence most often takes the form of her words as translated remotely by Tan’s friend via Skype. Acting as a soundtrack, the translation is informal, full of hesitations and pauses that trace the movement of one language into the next. Sunsets unfolds almost episodically, fading to black in a way that makes its structure much like its namesake. Recorded in Sweden in the early hours of morning during the summer and the mid-afternoon during the winter, Lisa Tan’s work reflects the rituals of its making. Her close ups are often inscrutable but what they produce is unmistakable: the strange and contradictory feelings of loss, anxiety, hope and renewal that the waning light of the day brings.
Lisa Tan’s work is part of Song of the Open Road open until June 18th, 2017.