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Indepth Arts News:

"The Nightly News, Curated by Kathleen Goncharov and Stephan Stoyanov"
2007-01-14 until 2007-02-10
LUXE Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

The Nightly News is an exhibition of works by artists from around the world, some showing in New York for the first time. These artists were born in Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Belgium, Poland, Mexico and Finland, as well as the United States. Current events and issues such terrorism, war, surveillance, xenophobia, racism, religious fanaticism, immigration, nationalism, and the abuse of power drive the exhibition. Artists included are Robert Boyd, caraballo-farman, Jody Culkin, Lieven De Boeck, Al Fadhil, Liselot van der Heijden, Dominik Lejman, Ahmet Ogut, Pedro Lasch, Pia Lindman, Christodoulous Paniyatou, Jackie Salloum, Lydia Venieri, Michael Waugh, Fred Wilson, Michael Zansky, and others.

Christodoulous Panayiotou’s video Alkadaslar depicting jet fighters drawing a heart in the sky was commissioned at the British military base in Cyprus. It was first shown in Athens where Panayiotou won the prestigious Deste Foundation Prize. It was later projected on the top of the Marmara Hotel, one of Istanbul’s most prominent buildings. It was timed to coincide with a visit from the Greek foreign minister who was in Turkey to help ease tensions between the two countries after the collision of two military planes. Ahmet Ogut’s video Light Armoured was also first presented in the adjacent square from the Marmara Hotel. This animation features a Land Rover, transformed into a tank, being hit with stones thrown from off-screen. Despite the fact that the image is generic with no national identification, the Turkish police shut it down believing it incited terrorism. Paranoia is also the subject of Dominik Lejman’s video of ice skaters at Rockefeller Center unknowingly being spied upon by surveillance helicopters.

Jackie Salloum’s cleverly packaged mock toy called Caterrorpillar enthusiastically advertises its effectiveness in destroying Palestinian homes, commenting on Israel’s use of American made Caterpillar bulldozers. Lydia Venieri also ironically conflates war and play in her deceptively saccharine photographs of dolls whose eyes reflect the conflicts they see around the world. An ineffectual and contrite Superman can be seen flying over the remains of Falluja after the US invasion of the Iraqi city in Al Fadhil’s photo-collage. An accompanying photograph retells the plight of immigrants who feel compelled to leave their troubled homelands.

Fred Wilson also addresses immigration and the persistent xenophobia that permeates Western society with works first seen at the US Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale. His moors holding candelabras are modern replicas of an 18th Century stereotype still ubiquitous in Venice. These figures represent the explosive potential of continued racism and anti-Muslim bias around the world and a plea to put out the flames. Lieven De Boeck also sees alternatives in his White Flag project. This installation presents the 192 flags of the United Nations members stripped of national or ideological symbolism. All crosses, stars, crescents, eagles, etc. are cut away and the colors fade to white, the color of peace and negotiation.

Michael Waugh’s drawing, Heading East, Heading West, uses images and text from a WWII era book on submarine warfare combined with a Nautica ad. His submarines fly the Nazi and Texas flags respectively. Liselot van der Heijen deals more specifically with our Texan-in-Chief. Her video, See Evil, Hear Evil, Speak Evil is a parody of the deceptive and manipulative use of language in which she has eliminated all but the word evil from George Bush’s State of the Union address. Michael Zansky also addresses US politics with his images showing a Dorian Gray version of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld visible despite their placid exteriors. This work is a literal interpretation of Walter Benjamin’s pessimistic view that history is best understood through an analysis of the debris that it leaves behind.

The media is the subject of Pedro Lasch’s rapid-fire video consisting of stills taken from the BBC and other sources showing figures in masks and hoods. Pia Lindman transforms photographs of grieving people taken from the front page of the New York Times, reproducing these images by means of simple line drawings and mimicing their actions. Similarly, the collaborative team, caraballo-farman manipulates and simplifes newspaper images of grief-stricken individuals from the Mid-East conflict. The rich darks and deep shadows in these photographs recall old master paintings and the universal nature of sorrow depicted in them.

Holland Cotter calls Robert Boyd’s video series Xanadu a “trailer for the Apocalypse” set to a disco beat. Heaven’s Little Helper, a segment from this epic, uses footage of Doomsday-cult gurus and their disciples to expose the religious fanaticism rampant today. Jody Culkin’s version of a burqa, the garb worn by conservative Islamic women and sometimes forced upon them by men, is an alternative to what has become, whether right or wrong, a symbol of religious intolerance. Her garment is made of diaphanous material and is equipped with motorized wings for a quick escape.

The exhibition also features a reading by Charles Doria of poems written in response to current events and a performance by Pia Lindman who will reenact images of grief taken from the media.

Kathleen Goncharov is an independent curator and critic. She has served as Adjunct Curator at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, US Commissioner to the 50th Venice Biennale, Public Art Curator at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Curator of the Collection at The New School. She lives and works in New York City.

Lieven De Boeck

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