'A Picture of War is Not War', we read in Hito Steyerl's iconic film November (2004), an essayistic Super 8 film tackling the definition of terrorism constructed around the figure of the artist's best friend Andrea Wolf, who was killed as a terrorist in 1998 in Eastern Anatolia after she joined the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). Mixing documentary...
There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...
Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...
Exhibition view: Pia Camil, Split Wall, Nottingham Contemporary (14 July–7 October 2018). Courtesy Apollo Magazine. Photo: Stuart Whipps.
Pia Camil’s first solo exhibition in the UK might be called Split Wall but it is actually entirely walled in. The large windows at Nottingham Contemporary that usually offer passers-by a sneak preview have been blocked up, and even the glass doors at the front of the space remain covered. The only way to experience the Mexican artist’s work is to step inside the gallery. Camil invites us to view her new and existing output in a detached landscape; there is to be no connection between the city streets outside and the art inside. This is surprising for an artist who has spent a large part of her career creating work in response to urban spaces, economics and the media. She has explored cross-border trade in Mexico (the city very much informs Camil’s work), recreated billboards using fabric, and produced performances in the streets of Guatemala City. Yet in Nottingham she places us in a dark room with only a short script to guide us.
Across Pia Camil's diverse practice—spanning painting, ceramics, public projects and gigantic patchwork garments—is an underlying inquiry into the relationship between a city and its people. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations including the visual form of Mexico City and the works of fellow artists, Camil examines the urban debris left behind by globalisation and consumer culture.
Born in Mexico City, Camil studied in the United States and Britain. When she returned to her hometown after university, she was astounded to find that the city's landscape had become unfamiliar to her. Particularly intrigued by the city's ruins, she began the painting series 'Highway Follies' (2011), comprising irregularly shaped, monochromatic canvases inspired by the forms of abandoned construction sites along highways. Camil covered each canvas in resin and mineral pigment, giving it a saturated and textured surface. The series also included photographic studies of the original sites, printed with a layer of pigment wash that lent an aged atmosphere to the images. In an artist statement, Camil noted a tendency to romanticise urban ruins: 'the aestheticisation of failure'.
Camil's interest in city debris has also led her to work with abandoned billboards in Mexico. In the 'Espectaculares Paintings' series (2012–2015)—shown in her 2014 solo exhibition The Little Dog Laughed at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles—canvases were sewn together out of pieces of hand-dyed fabrics cut to mimic the shapes of letters and numbers from billboards. Instead of replicating the text from the billboards in their entirety, however, Camil deconstructed them into fragments; their forms suggested a legible text from distance, yet were illegible up close.
Similarly containing abstracted text from billboards and also included in the exhibition was Camil's series of ceramic sculptures titled 'Fragmento' (2014). For this series, each work took the form of a portion of a number or a letter. In Fragmento 0 (2014), for example, the J-shaped sculpture was based on a section of the number 0.
Another of Camil's ongoing concerns is to engender an intimate, direct relationship between her artwork and the audience, in an effort to circumvent the often consumerist approach towards art-viewing. The artist has explored this idea with participatory projects such as Wearing Watching—commissioned by Frieze Art Inc in 2015—for which she distributed 800 ponchos stitched from repurposed fabrics, free of charge. Formally, the ponchos were based on wearable textiles designed by the late Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica. Whereas Oiticica sought to encourage an unrestrained approach to life through his formless garments, Camil responded to the commercial nature of art fairs by offering hers for free. Her only request of the participants was to post on social media the selfies they took while wearing her ponchos, which not only brought the poncho-wearers into physical contact with Camil's work, but also turned them into a spectacle at the fair.
As with Wearing Watching, Camil based the performance Divisor Pirata (2016–ongoing) on the work of another artist—in this case, Lygia Pape's Divisor (1968). In both Pape and Camil's performances, participants poked their heads through the openings of an enormous textile and marched in unison. However, Camil replaced Pape's single piece of white fabric with a colourful garment composed of T-shirts that were, for the most-part, originally manufactured in Mexico to be sold in the United States, and then were brought back to Mexico after being discarded by their owners. In bringing them back to North America for her performance, Camil recasts the T-shirts as sojourning carriers of cultural information and as reminders of the massive debris that globalisation generates. The performance was initiated in the streets of Guatemala City in 2016, followed by Dallas in 2017 and Savannah in 2018.
Camil received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence in 2003, and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 2008. Selected solo exhibitions include Fade Into Black at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia (2018); Split Wall at Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2018); and Telón de Boca at Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City (2018); in addition, Camil presented a performance during the 4th annual Do Disturb! at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018). Her work has also been exhibited at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (2018); Dallas Contemporary (2017); Blum & Poe, New York (2016); New Museum, New York (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2015); and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2015), among others.
In advance of Henry Taylor's exhibition at Blum and Poe, the artist met Laura Hoptman, Executive Director of the Drawing Center, at the Drawing Center on Wooster Street in Soho for a conversation. What follows is a condensed version of that discussion, which ranges from Taylor's childhood, to the importance of drawing in his practice, and how he...
A toxic beauty emanates from — or maybe infects — six impressive new landscape photographs and three abstractions by Florian Maier-Aichen. It's the sixth solo show at Blum & Poe by the German-born, L.A.-based artist, and it represents a milieu in which he has worked for more than a dozen years.
Art Basel 2019 opens to the public on Thursday, June 13, with two preview days, on June 11 and 12. Some 290 galleries from 34 countries will show work at the Swiss fair, which runs through June 16.
There are hundreds of exhibitions in Venice during the Biennale. Alongside the main exhibition in the Giardini and Arsenale, there are 90 national presentations, many in nearby pavilions in the Giardini and in spaces around the Arsenale, but also dotted throughout Venice. Then there are the official collateral exhibitions in museums and galleries,...
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