Friday, October 23, 2009

Luckily It's Who You Know (the CEC Artslink Art Lottery)

At an Art in General special event a few nights ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sabina Sabolovic, one of the four curators of What, How & for Whom ([WHW] the Zagreb-based collective who curated this year's Istanbul Biennial) about the charms of Bishkek (the capital of Kyrgyzstan), which she had visited in her research for which artists to invite to the biennial. As often happens in such contexts---someone looking at me...a fair, red-headed blue-eyed man who doesn't speak Russian--- the question came up as to how on earth my travels ever landed me in such a remote part of the world. I noted that our gallery represents Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev (M&G), who reside in Bishkek, but I could see Sabina was still somewhat surprised by how that relationship came to be. Then I pointed to Bambino across the room (whose hometown is also Bishkek), and the clouds of confusion cleared. "Ahhh," Sabina said, as I noted her mentally piecing together a narrative that made sense of it all.

Bambino and I have often acknowledged how extremely slim the odds were that our paths should ever cross, and yet how destined that meeting seems to have been now. Moreover, since traveling to visit his family in Central Asia, a trip that opened up my worldview to things I previously could not have imagined (try
this post for a taste) and like many people who experience a culture so wonderful and yet so different from their own, I've become ever more drawn to all things Central Asian* and, via expanding our circle through that exposure, to all things post-Soviet. Indeed, the number of artists we know now who are connected to the post-Soviet experience surprised me the other day...there's M&G, Yevgeniy Fiks, Carlos Motta, Eve Sussman (that's just the artists who've had solo shows in the gallery) and perhaps three dozen others we've met through those connections.

My point here is that I have no idea whether this portion of the gallery program would have evolved as it has, had I never met Bambino. I like to think I would have still discovered this incredibly rich and evolving section of the art world (the artists from the former Soviet Union in general, but Central Asia in particular, have had a very intense experience as of late; many were trained in the high-quality but low-tolerance Soviet art academies far from home and then returned to join artist unions, there being few gallery opportunities for them and usually few exhibitions outside the USSR that they could arrange; but after the USSR collapsed they began to move about more freely and the unique combination of excellent training meeting new-found freedoms inspired an explosion of activity leading up to first Central Asian Pavilion at Venice in 2005, after which curators from around the West literally began heading to the area by the plane load), but the truth of the matter is, as in all things in life, many of the opportunities that come your way are influenced by who you know.

Luckily for you, you know me (or at least you know this blog), and that provides you an opportunity to receive a significant discount on tickets to an event that promises to become one of the highlights of the New York art benefits season AND in one fell swoop bring you up to speed on a wide range of the most important artists from the former Soviet Union and the surrounding areas.

CEC Artslink, led by the indefatigable and utterly charming Fritzie Brown, is an international arts organization that encourages and supports the exchange of artists and cultural managers between the United States and Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. To say they're doing the heavy lifting for everyone else in the West just now waking up to the vibrant and vital dialog taking place in those parts of the world is an understatement. Next Thursday, CEC Artslinks launches its first Arts Lottery benefit.

Here's how it works:
Win Original Work of Art by a Brilliant Array of International Artists

Thursday, October 29, 2009 6:30 p.m.
Drawing begins at 7:30 p.m.
At Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
31 Mercer Street, New York City
Masters of Ceremonies Andrew Andrew

How it works
Art works will be displayed throughout the gallery. All ticket holders at the level of $750 and up will win a work of art. Lottery participants are encouraged to browse the images now as well as preview the works at the gallery on the day of the event before the lottery begins and compile a list of at least 10 of their favorites. When a ticket holder’s name is randomly chosen, he or she has up to 60 seconds to select a work of art. Very Lucky Ticket ($2,000) holders increase their chances of choosing their top selections in a separate drawing of only 5 names prior to the general lottery. Two guests with Individual Tickets ($250) will be randomly selected at the event to participate in the general drawing.

All proceeds will benefit CEC ArtsLink, a 501 (c)(3) not for profit organization.

For more information please call Zhenia Stadnik at 212/643-1985 x26 or email
Bambino and I are on the committee for the Luck-themed benefit, and two of our artists (well, two of our groups of artists) have generously donated work: Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev (who, as I noted yesterday, were just shortlisted for the Artes Mundi prize), and Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation (whose work-in-progress project "White on White" was filmed largely in Central Asia). See the work available at the benefit by each below.

But getting back to your good fortune, if you join us by purchasing tickets (again, call Zhenia Stadnik at 212/643-1985 x26 or email, AND you mention the promotion code "M&G" you'll receive a 25% discount! That's 1/4 off the price for the ticket level of your choice just because you read this post.

The evening promises to be an eye-opening and very rewarding experience (see the truly stellar list of participating artists
here). More than that, though, you'll be supporting an organization that continues to be a leader in civilian their mission states : "opening doors, sharing ideas and building mutual trust. [] today’s transformed and complex world."

Among the works available in the benefit:

Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
Oil Fields, Baku, 2016
still from "White on White"
edition of 20
pigment on metallic silver paper

Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev
Last Stop Before Border
digital photograph, edition of 5
50 x 33 cm
*In addition to being remarkably rich in art, Central Asia is also an oddly quiet, underestimated political powder keg. With the United States, Russia, and China each struggling to dominate in Kyrgyzstan alone (try this for a quick summary of the issues in play) and the oil, gold, water, and access to the surrounding regions of intense interest (Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc) to be had by doing so, the relatively tiny governments of the "Stans" are (momentarily at least) raking in the Super Powers' cash (and far too many of them are not sharing it with their people [can you say "revolution"?])....

Being there is a very intense experience. When flying from Yerevan into Bishkek, Bambino and I were two of only 10 people on the flight, at least 6 of the others of whom simply had to be CIA (we saw one gentleman at the airport checking in a trunk load of automatic weapons and rocket-launcher type gizmos).

Labels: art appreciation, art benefit


Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

This one post is so full of information, insights and back-story revelations, that it's a small education for artists all by itself.

We may say (and think) it's "all about the work," but the work is connected to the rest of the art world by a crosscrossing of lines and dots. Thanks for posting this.

10/23/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When do we get the story about how you and Bambino met?


10/23/2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

attend the event and I promise I'll share. :-)

10/23/2009 11:36:00 AM  

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