Alex Ito: The Home of Tao Hsiao
B: Did you know that this would happen?
A: No- but i suspected something would happen.
B: What gave you that feeling?
A: My belief. I had given myself to these things- these bags, these buildings, these cheap stories. I was a believer. There was no questioning what I had become, because I already was.
B: What were you?
A: A part of a whole. The body’s reflection. My family was the bag, the building and the stories.
B: I’m not sure I understand.
A: The things I acquired and exchanged. A transaction. An institution. The story that ends with my happiness. The story of this place. It was important for me to uphold my family’s traditions. How could I contribute? How could I matter?
B: How could you “matter”?
A: To do service to my family. To maintain our home. To keep the story going.
B: Kind of like a sequel.
A: More like an extension to a house. Everything needs support. Whether it is was a roman column in the past or a cinderblock now, I must uphold the canon. The pyramids wouldn’t exist without all those believers. I am the next roman column- the next page.
B: You “are”? Does this mean you are still a believer?
Art in General is pleased to present The Home of Tao Hsiao, an exhibition of new works by Alex Ito in Art In General’s Storefront Project Space. Ito’s exhibition is an extension of Art in General’s 2013 New Commission with The Still House Group, supporting not only the organization’s permanent studio roster of eight artists, but so too their network and community.
Complete exhibition details available here.
Above: Alex Ito, The Home of Tao Hsiao, installation view, Art in General Storefront Project Space, Spring 2014. Photo: Steven Probert
“We should demonstrate by our example that capitalism also makes the labor of thinking possible on the broadest basis, as only capitalism is able to provide it.”
-Ernst Gombrich, Aby Warburg, an Intellectual Biography (With a Memoir on the History of the Library by F. Saxl) (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1970), 130.
“The path to greater economic self-sufficiency will necessarily lead to alternative lifestyles which will run counter to the image of the good life presented to us by white supremacist capitalist patriarchal mass media.”
-bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (Boston: South End Press, 2000), 52.
Images from the opening of Lisi Raskin’s Recuperative Tactics and you know it when you feel it, Art in General, April 19, 2014, from top: Viewers take in Roxanne D. Crocker’s CAKE at the opening; CAKE detail. Photos: Steven Probert
New Commission by Halsey Rodman opens at HDTS
May 31, 2014 – May 31, 2015
High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA
September 5 – November 21, 2015
Art in General, New York, NY
ON VIEW: An Artist’s Dueling Landscapes, Kareem Estefan, T Magazine, November 18, 2013. View article.
ARTISTS ON ARTISTS: Halsey Rodman by Ulrike Müller , BOMB, Spring 2013. View article.
Art in General is pleased to present Halsey Rodman’s Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room, a New Commission in collaboration with High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA.
Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room presents a temporally distributed architectural structure conceived for two locations: the desert of High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA and Art in General’s 6th floor gallery in the heart of downtown New York City. The work begins in the desert as a triangular building divided into three identical rooms. Each room has a circular window looking out upon the landscape and contains a series of near-identical “fixtures”: a desk, a chair, and a shelf. The interior and fixtures are painted distinct colors according to the single descriptive text below.
I AM THINKING OF A REVERSE SUNSET THAT NEITHER OF US HAS EVER SEEN: WHAT YOU SEE IN THE SKY OPPOSITE THE SUNSET.
WHAT SURROUNDS THE PRISM IN THE DESERT IN THE FUTURE IS OUT OF REACH SO
I WILL PULL THESE COLORS FROM THE AIR.
FOUR COLORS ABOVE THE TAN DESERT SCRUB IN THE GRAYING SKY FADE TOWARDS THE LIGHT BLUE DUSK: DUSTY PURPLE, MAGENTA, FADING RED, PEACH AND ON INTO THAT AIRLESS BLUE
THE FIFTH COLOR IS YELLOW: THE CONE OF A FLASHLIGHT IN A PITCH BLACK ROOM
One year later the work will be dismantled, transported, and reassembled inside Art in General’s gallery, the previous exterior walls unfolded to become the interior. The three (formerly) exterior walls create a central, open triangular area and the interiors and walls of the rooms will be splayed-out around the perimeter. All windows in the gallery are open, allowing the shifting light to filter in, clock-like, from the outside. The presence of the desert landscape is collapsed into the center of the inside-out structure, an exterior folded in upon itself. This inverted structure, now established as a zone of exchange, interpenetration, and blurring between interior and exterior, suggests a consensual, productive encounter of time and architecture.
Halsey Rodman (b. 1973) is an American artist living and working in New York, NY. Rodman received his BA from the College of Creative Studies at the University of Santa Barbara in 1995 and his MFA from Columbia University in 2003. Rodman has been the subject of solo exhibitions including Cave System or Ear Canal, Soloway, New York, NY (2013); The Birds, Guild & Greyshkul, New York, NY (2008); The Navigator’s Quarters Must Not Be Disturbed, Guild & Greyshkul, New York, NY (2006); among others. His work has been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions including A Room in Three Movements, Sue Scott Gallery, New York, NY (2011); in here, Laurel Gitlen, New York, NY (2010); The Line of Time and the Plane of Now, curated by Jacob Dyrenforth, Ohad Meromi, and Halsey Rodman, Harris Lieberman, New York, NY (2007); among others. His work has been the subject of articles in The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail, TimeOut New York; among others.
Founded in 2002, High Desert Test Sites, is a non-profit organization that pays tribute to inspirational figures in our surrounding community and generates dialogue and reciprocal exchange with international contemporary artists and critical thinkers whose practices transcend traditional art world formats. Over the last eleven years HDTS has endeavored to encourage experimental art that engages with the world at large. We support and draw attention to independent projects that happen outside of the auspices of larger institutions and challenge artists and audiences to expand the definition of art to take on new areas of relevancy.
High Desert Test Sites is grateful to their generous supporters and volunteers, including Malado Francine Baldwin, Luke Davis, Josephine Edmondson, Lauren Gallow, Anna Ialeggio, Hannah Jackson, Sophie Stid, and Angie Terry.
Additional support for Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room provided by Guerra Paints. Special thanks to Eric/Blumberg Designs and Vance Wellenstein & Phil Lubline/Other Means, and Toporovsky Triplets.
Image: Site for Gradually / We Became Aware / Of a Hum in the Room, at High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, California, 2014.
Robert Sember on the topic of “Collectivity,” presented as part of What Now? 2014: Collaboration & Collectivity at the Vera List Center Saturday, April 5, 2014.
For the members of Ultra-red, the question of political listening attains urgency because of our specific commitments to class struggle. Both within the cultural action of Ultra-red and in our political contexts outside/alongside Ultra-red, we witness continually how the failures to determine a deliberative process of collective listening results in all manner of obstacles within the very confines of movement building, not to mention the procedures of listening required in contested encounters with state power and its class masters. And yet we know from our own experience as well as through scholarship, that movements sustain themselves or not in large part due to their capacity to develop listening protocols, either intentionally authored or adopted from existing social and political forms, such as the church, the family, the classroom, or friendship. Oftentimes organizers, activists, and base communities resist intentional protocols of listening on the grounds that such procedures trigger a feeling of in-authenticity or unnaturalness. And yet in that resistance we can hear the conflict between competing protocols and even the friction between underlying ethical systems. As the sociologist Francesca Polletta has pointed out, movements organized upon the armature of friendship can find intentional processes inauthentic precisely because those processes demand a reorganization of relations and even a shift in ethical foundation from one based on affinity to one that becomes available to the stranger or outsider. Throughout these often painful episodes of transition and re-examination, the existing protocols of listening come under scrutiny and risk themselves seeming strange and unnatural. Thus, it could be said that listening as a political practice is always an encounter with the stranger in our midst. At this point, I can signal a third dimension of collectivity that may be of interest here, which is the question of leadership. The move to collective listening can be an opportunity to diminish or dilute the tendency for a collective to be organized around a single personality or particular authority. Related to this issue is the difference in the roles individuals can play within collectives. A particularly important distinction to be made is between the individual as organizer and the individual or collective as protagonist of struggle.
In Ultra-red’s consideration of leadership, we often turn to the legacy of Ella Baker, a woefully underappreciated civil rights organizer. Ella Baker helped form economic cooperatives in Harlem in the early 20th century, and greatly increased the national membership of the NAACP while actively critiquing the organization’s hierarchical and male-dominated structure. She is probably best remembered for her work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Under Miss Baker’s guidance SNCC members practiced a form of organizing grounded in procedures of listening that involved disciplined attentiveness and active questioning. Working closely with poor, rural communities in segregated Southern states, SNCC activists saw their role as using an active practice of listening to assist the constituency find its own power and solutions to problems. Even when the work of SNCC became consolidated around voter-registration campaigns, those campaigns always assumed the primary aim of developing and reproducing leadership within and among the community itself. SNCC activists were not the protagonists of the movement. They were its organizers. In testimony after testimony, when asked about the role of Ella Baker in the movement, SNCC alumni talk of how she taught people how to listen. That pedagogy of listening was the basis of a political literacy that then equipped SNCC field organizers to work with people and help them realize their own power to endure the brutal retaliation of white supremacist state and mass violence and eventually transform a racially defined class structure.*
Robert Sember is a member of the international sound-art collective, Ultra-red (for more information click here). For twenty years, Ultra-red has investigated the contribution experimental sound art can make to political organizing. Robert brings to his work with Ultra-red training in cultural studies and medical anthropology. His ethnographic research in the U.S. and South Africa has focused on governmental and non-governmental service sectors with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment concerns. He currently teaches at The New School’s Eugene Lang College. He was a 2009-2010 Vera List Center for Art and Politics Fellow.
*This is only an excerpt. The full presentation will be made available shortly here.