Friday, October 26, 2012

Opening Tonight! Yevgeniy Fiks, "Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America," @ Winkleman Gallery



Yevgeniy Fiks
Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America
October 26 - December 22, 2012
Opens Friday, October 26, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America, our third solo exhibition by New York-based artist Yevgeniy Fiks. Taking its title from a 1953 article by the Cold Warrior and pundit Arthur Guy Mathews, this exhibition explores the historical and ideological links between anti-Communism and homophobia in the United States, as well as the intersections between Communism and sexual identity as it played out during the 20th century. Works in the exhibition range from dry factuality to humorous and farcical, and posit the 20th century queerness as the shared "Other" of the Communism-Capitalism dichotomy, while tracing the uneasy yet tangible historical links between the early 20th century Communist activism and the gay rights movement of the second half of the century.

The exhibition delves into the interlocking histories of the “Red” and “Lavender” scares during the McCarthy-era, when anti-Communist and anti-gay sentiments were fused together in the Cold War witch-hunt rhetoric. Pundits and government officials went as far as envisioning a sinister conspiracy: the Soviet Union is promoting homosexuality as a tool to destroy America. Concurrently, the federal government purged homosexuals that it employed, calling them “security risks”—vulnerable of being blackmailed by Soviet agents into working for them. Ironically, in response to and mirroring its ideological enemy, the American Communist Party also purged known gays from its ranks—marking them as “security risks”—for fear that gay Communists were vulnerable to blackmail and could become informants for the Feds. The official charter of the Communist Party USA even before its 1950s anti-gay purge strictly prohibited gays from membership, adhering to the policies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union where homosexuality was officially criminalized under Stalin and stigmatized as a "capitalist degeneracy."

Works in the exhibition include Stalin's Atom Bomb a.k.a. Homosexuality, a series of prints that highlights paranoid anti-communist and anti-gay quotations from American politicians and pundits of the era. Another series, Joe-1 Cruising in Washington, DC includes photographs of a 6-foot cutout of the 1949 Soviet nuclear test explosion RDS-1—codenamed in the US as "Joe-1"—posing, in 2012, at locations that had been popular gay cruising sites in Washington D.C. circa 1930s-1950s. The Security Risk Map of Manhattan maps gay cruising and Communist meeting sites of the 1930-1950s, presenting an open ended question about the "conspiracy" and overlap between the two groups.

Two installations focus on a particular historical figure whose life epitomized this ironic and widely unknown intersection of policies. The piece History of the CPUSA (Harry Hay) consists of a 1952 edition of History of the Communist Party of the United States by William Z. Foster, with inserts about the life and work of Harry Hay (1912–2002). Harry Hay was a communist activist who was forced out of the CPUSA during the McCarthy era, and who later became one of the founders of the gay rights movement in the United States. The work Marxism and the National Question (Harry Hay) is an installation that consists of Joseph Stalin’s 1942 English edition books, Marxism and the National Question, in which Stalin outlines his definition of national minorities. This book sparked Harry Hay’s groundbreaking concept that “gay” constitute a minority—similar to African-Americans or Jews—and as a separate people they are entitled to civil rights. In a whim of historical irony, Hay appropriated the writings by the oppressive Soviet Thermidorian dictator and turned them into a tool of liberation, laying a foundation for the gay movement in the United States.

Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow in 1972 and has been living and working in New York since 1994. Fiks has produced many projects on the subject of the Post-Soviet dialog in the West, among them: "Ayn Rand in Illustration," a series of drawing pairing descriptive text from Atlas Shrugged with uncannily complimentary Soviet Socialist Realism classic artworks; “Lenin for Your Library?” in which he mailed V.I. Lenin’s text “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” to one hundred global corporations as a donation for their corporate libraries; “Communist Party USA,” a series of portraits of current members of Communist Party USA, painted from life in the Party’s national headquarters in New York City; and “Communist Guide to New York City,” a series of photographs of buildings and public places in New York City that are connected to the history of the American Communist movement. Fiks’ work has been shown internationally. This includes exhibitions in the United States at Winkleman and Postmasters galleries (both in New York) Mass MoCA, and the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Marat Guelman Gallery in Moscow; Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City, and the Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon. His work has been included in the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011, 2009, 2007 and 2005), Biennale of Sydney (2008) and Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2007).

For more information contact Edward Winkleman at (212) 643-3152 or info@winkleman.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apologies

One of the arguments Mitt Romney is making for why President Obama should not be re-elected is what he's calling "The Apology Tour." Essentially, he's arguing that Obama, through a series of speeches in the Middle East and subsequent actions, has projected weakness by suggesting the United States has at times behaved in a way that we should be sorry for.

Why this is seen by Romney as an effective attack (and one they're pushing even harder now) in his own bid for the White House---other than the rather cynical and obviously Rovian tactic to attack your political opponent's understood strengths (indeed, few presidents have worked as ruthlessly to protect this nation as Obama)---is because of a widely held notion in the US that we do good for the world by projecting an unshakable sense of strength (especially to the players in the unstable Middle East). To many weaker minds and those of weaker character, that notion leaves no room for self-doubt and certainly no self-admonishments. It's a popular notion in the US and is celebrated in our films and other popular entertainment.

I'd like to pick that notion apart here, though, because in its absolute application it's beyond foolhardy; it's down right dangerous. Any president who leaves him/herself no diplomatic wiggle room because of a promise to never apologize puts us all at considerable risk.

But first, let's back up to the debate just a moment. Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, in the reactions to the third presidential debate, someone noted that they had wished Obama's retort to Romney's taunt about the so-called Apology Tour had been: "Governor Romney, the only time I've had to apologize for America was when you went overseas and insulted out closest allies in Britain and Poland." 

In listening to Romney's explanation of "The Apology Tour" and attempting to perceive this profits-über-alles businessman's view of the issue, I was reminded of a 1953 exchange former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had in her role as an American stateswoman while appearing on "Longines Chronoscope," a TV program about politics (watch the entire interview here). In part, I was reminded of it because Romney's rhetoric seems so outdated, as if he believes the world stage remains as it did in 1953:
Edward P Morgan:

Mrs. Roosevelt, some nights ago, I had dinner with a man and his wife in Spokane, Washington. Quite sincerely, but quite seriously, they asked me two questions: they said, "Do these foreigners hate us as much as they seem?" and "Are they ever going to be grateful for the things that we do for them?" Now you've just come back from one of your latest trips to far parts of the world. Can you answer those questions?

Eleanor Roosevelt:

Well I would not say that foreigners hated us. I would say that many of them were a little suspicious. That they did not like to feel that everything they wanted to do, they had to ask us for our help. Or some  of it would come from the United Nations, and they liked that better, because they were members. They felt they got it by right, and there was no one individual nation that they had to depend on. But I would say that it was always hard to be grateful for something that you felt you would like to be able to do with asking anyway.
Roosevelt later goes on to explain, with particular regards to nations forced to rebuild after the devastation of WWII:
I think of course that there is some envy in it. When people say, "Will they never be grateful for what we've done?" I think there is gratitude, but gratitude is sometimes swamped by the sense of why was this done, "Was it done in the long run so we could, we who just freed ourselves from political domination, be dominated through economics?"
And without an awareness of that suspicion, a non-apologetic President is doomed to repeat those mistakes (the kind of mistakes that led the US to overthrow a democratically elected government in Iran, which still haunts us to this day, for example). 

But in thinking through Romney's apparent position on "apologies," I was also struck by how this worldview is actually no longer affordable. Romney would seem to argue that we, the United States, must lead through strength, with ultimately the implicit threat of military action against anyone who would dare challenge our right to do so. What Romney seems to not understand, but that Obama seems to have firmly grasped, is that even our military strength is not unlimited and, more importantly, it pales in comparison to the type of soft power that Obama often wields so effectively (or at least better understands the use of, if Romney's Summer tour abroad is any indication).  As Joseph Stiglitz explains in his book, The Price of Inequality:

America's global strength is its soft power, the power of its ideas, an educational system that educates leaders from all over the world, the model that it provides for others to follow. Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the limits of military power; not even a large country spending as much on the military as all of the rest of the world combined can truly pacify or conquer a country with one-tenth its population or 0.1 percent of its GDP. The country has long exerted its influence by strength of its economy and the attractiveness of its democracy.

But the American model is losing some of its luster. It's not just that the American model of capitalism didn't provide sustained growth. It's more that others are beginning to realize that most citizens have not benefited from that growth, and such a model is not very politically attractive. And they sense, too, the corruption (American style) of our political system, rife with the influence of special interests.

Of course, there's more than a little schadenfreude here. We lectured countries all around the world about how to run their economy, about good institutions, about democracy, about fiscal rectitude and balanced budgets. We even lectured them about their excessive inequality and rent seeking. Now our credibility is gone: we are seen to have a political system in which one party tries to disenfranchise the poor, in which money buys politicians and policies that reinforce the inequalities.

We should be concerned about the risk of this diminished influence. Even if things had been going better in the United States, the growth of the emerging markets would necessitate a new global order. There was just a short period, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, when the United States dominated in virtually every realm. Now the emerging markets are demanding a larger voice in international forums.
We can no longer afford the type of arrogance Romney demands. He's living in the 1950s if the truly thinks the world still works that way. I don't believe he does think the world still works that way. But he's cynically willing to suggest he does to get himself elected. The danger, again, is if through such arrogance he paints us into a corner that causes the nation real harm.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Moving Image London

I'll  be on bloggin hiatus as we travel to London for the 2012 Moving Image art fair. If you're in London, please do stop by!

See you on the other side.

Moving Image, the contemporary video art fair, is very pleased to announce the artists and participating galleries, as well as our schedule of events, for the 2012 London edition. Returning to the Bargehouse on London's South Bank, October 11-14, 2012, with an international selection of 35 single-channel videos and installations from Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, South America, and North America, Moving Image has been conceived to offer a viewing experience with the excitement and vitality of a fair, while allowing moving-image-based artworks to be understood and appreciated on their own terms.
Gary Hill, Incidence of Catastrophe, 1987–88, single-channel HD video, 43:51 minutes. Courtesy DNA Galerie, Berlin Germany.
Highlights of the 2012 London fair include historical works by highly influential pioneers of video and filmmaking, such as Peter Campus (Cristin Tierney, New York); Gary Hill (DNA, Berlin); and Leslie Thornton (Winkleman Gallery, New York). Moving Image London 2012 also presents several installations, including works by Carolee Schneemann (PPOW, New York), Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck and Media Farzin (Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE),  Burak Arikan (Analix Forever, Geneva, Switzerland) and Nezaket Ekici (Pi Artworks, Istanbul, Turkey). And we are very excited to present works by emerging artists at the fair including new videos by Jen DeNike (Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA); Ryan McNamara (Elizabeth Dee, New York); Anssi Kasitonni (Av-arkki, Helsinki, Finland), and Luke Murphy  (CANADA, New York).

Nezaket Ekici, “Atropos”, 2006, performance installation video, 5:30 minutes. Courtesy Pi Artworks Istanbul and DNA Gallery, Berlin. photo by Stefan Erhard.
Participating Artists / Presented by galleries and non-profit institutions
Sama Alshaibi / Selma Feriani Gallery (London)
Burak Arikan / Analix Forever (Geneva, Switzerland)
Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck & Media Farzin / Green Art Gallery (Dubai, UAE)
Janet Biggs / Winkleman Gallery (New York, NY)
Carlos Bunga / Galería Elba Benítez (Madrid, Spain)
Peter Campus / Cristin Tierney Gallery  (New York, NY)
Nicole Cohen / Morgan Lehman Gallery (New York, NY)
Amanda Coogan / Kevin Kavanagh Gallery (Dublin, Ireland)
Jen DeNike / Anat Ebgi (Los Angeles, CA)
Ronald Duarte / Progetti (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Nezaket Ekici / Pi Artworks (Istanbul, Turkey)
Rico Gatson / Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York, NY)
Marisa Gonzalez / Galerie Vanguardia (Bilbao, Spain)
Brent Green  / Andrew Edlin Gallery (New York, NY)
Katharina Gruzei / Charim Galerie (Vienna, Austria)
Micah Harbon / Moving Image Presents (London)
Gary Hill / DNA (Berlin, Germany)
Francesco Jodice / Galleria Michela Rizzo (Venice, Italy)
Flo Kasearu / Temnikova & Kasela Gallery (Tallin, Estonia)
Anssi Kasitonni / AV-arkki (Helsinki, Finland)
Joan Leandre / [DAM] Berlin | Cologne (Berlin, Germany)
Ryan McNamara / Elizabeth Dee (New York, NY)
Aytegin Muratbek Uulu / ArtEast (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)
Luke Murphy / CANADA (New York, NY)
Michael Nyman / Myriam Blundell Projects (London)
Itziar Okariz / Galería Moisés Pérez de Albéniz (Pamplona, Spain)
Oval Office / Future Gallery (Berlin, Germany)
Daniel Phillips / DODGEgallery (New York, NY)
Carolee Schneemann / P·P·O·W (New York, NY)
Roman Signer / STAMPA (Basel, Switzerland)
Kate Steciw / toomer labzda (New York, NY)
Leslie Thornton / Winkleman Gallery (New York, NY)
Jaan Toomik / Temnikova & Kasela Gallery (Tallin, Estonia)
Mariana Vassileva / DNA (Berlin, Germany)
John Wood & Paul Harrison / Carroll / Fletcher (London)
Leslie Thornton, Peggy & Fred in Hell (Prologue), 1984, HD Video, 19 minutes, courtesy Winkleman Gallery, New York.

Moving Image's London 2012 Curatorial Advisory Committee
  • Moacir dos Anjos, Curator of São Paulo Biennial 2010, Visual Arts Coordinator at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil (São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Elizabeth Dee, Principal, Elizabeth Dee Gallery (New York, NY)
  • Kathleen Forde, Artistic Director at Borusan Contemporary (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Emily-Jane Kirwan, Director, The Pace Gallery / Commissioner, Irish Pavilion 2011, The 54th International Venice Biennale (New York, NY)
  • Berta Sichel, Curator-at-Large at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Independent Curator and Art Writer (Madrid, Spain / Berlin, Germany)
For a look at last year's Moving Image London, watch this short film, sponsored by Safiniart.

Schedule of Events
Thursday, October 11, 2012
  • 11:00 am- 8:00 pm : Admission Is Free
  • 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm : Opening Reception
  • 6:00 - 8:00 pm: BYOB

    Clare Holden and João Laia host a presentation of BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) on the opening night of Moving Image.  Building on the success of last year’s BYOB event, which was held in the atmospheric attic space of the Bargehouse,  this year even more artists and filmmakers will be involved to present and a true spectrum of moving image works by emerging artists.  BYOB is a series of one-night-exhibitions hosting artists, their work and their projectors. The event will include a series of artists that will collaborate on site to create a moving image performance. Each artist will choose the work to be exhibited and bring his or her own projection apparatus.  For more details please email info@filmcolab.org
Friday, October 12, 2012
  • 11:00 am 7:00 pm : Admission Is Free
    Private tours available for groups. Email us at groups@moving-image.info to schedule.
  • 2:00 - 3:30 pm :  Moving Image Spotlight Panel Discussion : "Film and Video at Art Fairs"International art fairs have increasingly become where many art galleries make a significant amount of their annual sales, and yet with their wide open spaces and regional differences in technological equipment or power sources, fairs can present challenges to the art gallery that wishes to exhibit film and video at these important selling opportunities.  "Film and Video at Art Fairs" brings together organizers of some of the most popular art fairs in the world to discuss the logistical and commercial challenges of presenting and selling film and video art at the fairs, including Amanda Coulson (Artistic Director, VOLTA); Michael Hall (Managing Director, The Armory Show); Elizabeth Dee / Jayne Drost Johnson (Co-Founder/Co-Director, INDEPENDENT); and David Gryn (Director & Founder of Artprojx) who has curated moving image projects for art fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach. The discussion will be moderated by video and performance artist Janet Biggs.
     
Saturday, October 13, 2012
  • 11:00 am - 7:00 pm : Admission Is Free
    Private tours available for groups. Email us at groups@moving-image.info to schedule.

Sunday, October 14, 2012
  • 11:00 am - 6:00 pm : Admission Is Free
Media Partners and Sponsors
We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of our media partners and sponsors for Moving Image London 2012:

Moving Image London
October 11-14 2012

Bargehouse
Oxo Tower Wharf
Bargehouse Street
South Bank
London SE1 9PH, UK
Bargehouse is owned and managed
by Coin Street Community Builders
www.coinstreet.org

Fair Hours
Thursday - Saturday, October 11-13, 2012 : 11:00 -19:00
Sunday, October 14, 2012 : 11:00 - 18:00
Opening Reception : Thursday, October 11, 2011, 18:00 - 20:00
Opening reception sponsored by Absolut Vodka

Moving Image was founded by Murat Orozobekov and Edward Winkleman of New York's Winkleman Gallery. For more information, contact Ed Winkleman at  (1) 212.643.3152  (USA) or (44) 07887  817306 (UK) or email us at contact@moving-image.info

Monday, October 01, 2012

Greed

I've been thinking more about greed lately. What it is. How it develops. What good it can do. What harm it can do.
Wikipedia has a definition of greed I find satisfactory :
Greed is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one's self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort. It is applied to a markedly high desire for and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.

As a secular psychological concept, greed is, similarly, an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs. It is typically used to criticize those who seek excessive material wealth, although it may apply to the need to feel more excessively moral, social, or otherwise better than someone else.
Now we've been down this path once before, and as one commenter pointed out, the problem with definitions like that lies in determining what equals "more than one needs." None of us has a crystal ball or other tool that definitively answers that question for every other person. But that doesn't mean we can't still discuss greed.
First let's begin perhaps by agreeing that the concept of "greed" is a social construct, and what's seen as greedy in one culture might not be in another. At the moment, I'm concerned with "greed" in America, and in particular how it informs the national debate we're having about whether raising taxes on the wealthy is our best path toward economic growth or whether cutting taxes on the wealthy is our best path toward economic growth.
OK, so given it's a social construct,  I think part of the answer to what equals "more than one needs" in the US can be found in how poor people are generally not viewed as "greedy" here, per se. Lazy perhaps, entitled or willing to take advantage of other people, but not "greedy." Of course, while it's clearly unfair to paint all poor people (many of whom work backbreaking jobs...jobs that someone has to perform...that simply don't pay that much) as "lazy," by the very definition of "greed" (inordinate desire to possess ... far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort), in the context of considering that we do have poor people in the US (those who are struggling to acquire the basics required for survival and comfort), it is possible to consider examples that might clarify what constitutes "more than one needs." 
For example, if you have a family of four and only have guests three times a year and only two at a time, an 8-bedroom house is "more than you need" by any reasonable standard. Of course, inheriting an 8-bedroom house doesn't make you greedy, but an inordinate desire to posses one you don't have, in this context, probably does. But even that isn't what most people think of when we say someone is "greedy."  Buying a bigger house than you need is not such an affront to others.

Generally, in the US, the degree of inordinate desire for "more than one needs" has to be somewhat obnoxious or so out of proportion with what others have for us to consider it "greedy." When CEOs make 231 times more their average workers, for instance, we have perhaps a clearer case example to consider:
[T]he pay gap between U.S. CEOs and rank-and-file workers is higher than anywhere else in the developed world. And it has been accelerating over the last few decades. In 1965, the U.S. CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was roughly 20 to 1.
Here are some additional stats to put the oh! in CEO:
  • 725%: That's how much average CEO compensation increased between 1978 and 2011, according to EPI.
  • 5.7%: That’s how much the average worker’s compensation increased over the same period
I know the incentives theory. That CEOs who deliver are worth their salaries. I just happen to agree with Joseph Stiglitz who noted that a CEO whose take home pay is only $10,000,000 is probably not going to be noticeably less motivated to deliver for his company than one whose take home pay is $12,000,000. There are limits to the logic that high CEO salaries benefit us all.
The CEO salary example begins to explains for me why being "greedy" seems such a bad thing to many of us. It's not just the wealth inequality brought about by the illogical increase in salaries for CEOs, but how that translates into opportunities or realities for everyone else. It is the way the person with the inordinate desire to posses more than they need behaves that makes it that much tougher on the rest of us to achieve what we more modestly desire to possess. 
By gobbling up as much of the pie as they can, they leave less for the rest of us, and eventually pit us against each other for the crumbs. When working class and middle-class people resent the meager salaries that teachers make, for example, I believe you can point directly at "greedy" behavior by others as the source of that absurdity. Did teachers see a 725% increase in their compensation over the past 33 years?
Consider this an open thread on greed and its implications in the coming election.