How are you doing out there? How are you doing in there? Who or what are you holding? public intimacies comes at a time of uncertainty, perhaps before a time of real cogent analysis of what’s been lost and what comes next but marking a sea change in how we can be together. Passing time, negotiating loss and ambivalence, broadcasting missives from bedrooms, calling lovers and friends on the phone, checking in, being uncomfortable and making others uncomfortable, sitting with disappointment, we make ourselves public through screens and digital space to feel like there is a public, or maybe there will be one again. Utilizing sincerity, persona, absurdity, play, and entanglement, artists in public intimacies make work mediated through the video screen, phone messaging, the online broadcast, and performance documentation, to broadcast personal relationships, desire, and intimacy into shared discursive spaces. Thinking through this present moment, these artists make and maintain spaces that are improvisational and provisional, intimate and confessional, asking others to enter and inhabit and to try and figure out how to be themselves. Organized by Abigail Satinsky, Curator of Exhibitions & Programs.
Artists: Brandon Alvendia, Alex Bag, Sadie Benning, CovidTV, Autumn Knight, and Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz
This showcase will be available September 8–October 31, 2020. New video programs will be added every two weeks.
September 8: Sadie Benning, Alex Bag, and Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz
September 21: Autumn Knight
October 5: COVIDtv
October 19: Brandon Alvendia
October 21: SMFA Student Screening, curated by Flor Delgadillo and Anne Harris
Sadie Benning It Wasn’t Love
In the early 1990s, 15-year-old Sadie Benning began making videos from the confines of their bedroom using a gifted toy camera from their father, the experimental filmmaker James Benning. Raised in Milwaukee by a single mother who worked as a maintenance painter in a hotel, Benning left school at age 16, partly due to experiencing homophobia. They have said they liked that the camera “wouldn’t talk back to me or judge me.” Using the Fisher-Price PixelVision, which recorded black-and-white video images onto standard audio cassettes, Benning created intimate, fractured narratives on gender, desire, longing, and queerness through the lens of their own developing identity while an isolated teenager. In It Wasn’t Love, Benning comments and plays on Hollywood and pop-culture stereotypes through the story of a love affair with both painful honesty and sly seduction. Benning has had a successful career since 1993, at age nineteen, when they became the youngest artist ever featured in the Whitney Biennial. Since then, they have had solo exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts (2004), Walker Art Center (2005), Dia Foundation for the Arts (2007), Whitney Museum of American Art (2009), and Renaissance Society (2016). Courtesy of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, www.vdb.org.
Alex Bag Untitled Fall ’95
In Untitled Fall ’95, Bag, an art student when she made this work, “plays” Bag the art student. In a series of deadpan performances, she gathers fragments of pop detritus, fashioning a thoroughly mediated document that is at once a celebration and a record of loss. With the narrative inevitability of a TV serial, the eight diaristic segments trace a woman’s struggle to make sense of her experience at art school. As each installment marks the start of a new semester, Bag’s character addresses the camera with her latest observations and frustrations. Interspersed between these confessions are eight set-pieces, in which Bag performs scenes from the background noise of her imagination: a pretentious visiting artist, London shopgirls discussing their punk band, a Ronald McDonald puppet attempting to pick up a Hello Kitty doll, the singer Björk explaining how television works. These surreal episodes, teetering on the divide between parody and complicity, sketch out what Bag sees as the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of contemporary youth culture. What emerges is a picture of anxiety, boredom, and ambivalence. As Bag despairs at one point, her culture is being sold back to her. However, popular culture, enmeshed with fashion, music, and the art world, necessarily depends on the machinations of capitalism. How does one mount a successful critique, when irony, satire, and subversion have been enshrined by advertising and the popular imagination? Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz Ask Chuleta #6: Identity Art
In 2005, performance artist Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz created the Ask Chuleta series, in which her alter ego, a “sassy, no-nonsense NuyoRican art enthusiast,” speaks directly to the camera about the biases of the white-dominated art world. Chuleta counters by amplifying underknown artists of color and the overlooked institutions that support them. Raimundi-Ortiz’s work anticipates confessional-style YouTube videos and uses a DIY approach to bypass art world gatekeepers and reach beyond the confines of the “white cube” to talk to anyone who wants to listen. The Ask Chuleta: Contemporary Art series (which is available on her website at https://wandaraimundi-ortiz.com/) has been exhibited internationally, translated into many languages, and included in such notable venues as Manifest 8 Biennial and ICP’s Project 35. Raimundi-Ortiz’s work has been reviewed in the New York Times, ArtNews, and numerous other publications. Courtesy of the artist.