Menagerie, or Artwork Not About Love
This group exhibition includes both international and Detroit-based artists: Terry Atkinson, Massimo Acanfora, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkacova, Stefan Constantinescu, Aurora De Armendi, Douglas Degges, Chido Johnson, Julia Klein, Theo Knox, Runo Lagomarsino, Kirsten Leenaars, Amitis Motevalli, Ahmet Ogut, Clifford Owens, Sarah Pager, Maja Radesic, Ariel Reichman, Dario Robleto, Joe Scanlan, Luke Turner, Sarah Wagner, Jemima Wyman, and Matvei Yankelevich. ----- There are two attitudes towards art. One is to view the work of art as a window on the world. Through words and images, these artists want to express what lies beyond words and images. Artists of this type deserve to be called translators. The other type of attitude is to view art as a world of independently existing things. Words, and the relationships between words, thoughts and the irony of thoughts, their divergence -- these are the content of art. Art, if it can be compared to a window at all, is only a sketched window. ~Letter 22 in Zoo, or Letters Not about Love by Viktor Shklovsky ------ While living in exile in Berlin, the Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky fell in love with Elsa Triolet and was in the habit of sending her several letters per day, a situation she accepted under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love. In the novel and this exhibition’s conceit, desire for the beloved gives way to personal anecdotes, cultural observations, and critique. As a curatorial constraint, works dealing with the topic: love— whether romantic, filial, spiritual, or even love of homeland—are chosen for their indirectness. The avoidance of the topic at hand mirrors the ways in which the sentimental desperately attempt to cauterize the wounds of the everyday, through evasion. The pain of isolation—from culture, community, or from a sense of home—is one of the most visceral humans endure. Drawing from the premise of the Shklovsky novel, the theme remains while the form is renegotiated. Politics play equal importance to affect in this exhibition. For example, Stefan Constantinescu’s “My Beautiful Dacia” is about Romania‟s love affair with the Dacia car, yet its subtexts create an interesting lens through which to think about the failure of industrialization and capitalism in disparate parts of the world. Similarly, the Enola Gay paintings by Terry Atkinson (Art & Language) are monochromes titled after, and bearing the profile trace of, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, in the final stages of WWII. The paintings, like the plane (named after the pilot’s mother), become an allegorical portrait not only about birth and destruction, but the latent legacy of Modernism. Much of Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkacova’s work ruptures social and political power structures. “Politiques de l'amitie (after Derrida),” is a performed sculpture and book, which undergoes the laborious process of being cut into confetti and dispersed at the opening of the exhibition. The random configuration composed by the fall is susceptible to chance and other unexpected forces, relating to their artistic partnership, practice, and collaboration in a broader political sense. Based on the constraints of Shklovsky’s 1923 epistolary novel, Zoo, or Letters Not about Love (an entire book of love letters that avoid an address of love), we present an exhibition entitled Menagerie, or Artwork Not about Love. The distant longings of the heart—or, for real optimists, the soul—are processed through allegory, denial, and poetry. ------ Zoo, or Letters Not about Love is an epistolary novel born of constraint, and although the brilliant and playful letters contained within cover everything from observations about contemporary German and Russian life to theories of art and literature, nonetheless every one of them is indirectly dedicated to the one topic they are all required to avoid: their author's own unrequited love (Dalkey Archive). About the Curators: Jaime Marie Davis is an independent curator and writer based in London, whose working process emerges from curiosity, and focuses on collaborative ideologies and marginalized practices. She is currently a member of Hemera Collective, associate curator at waterside contemporary and contributor to thisistomorrow.info and the London Photography Diary. She has a background in journalism and curating education programs and events at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Recent projects include Diary: Dai Jianyong curated with Hemera Collective (Chinese Visual Festival, London); Oreet Ashery: Animal with a Langauge and Long ago, and not true anyway (waterside contemporary, London); The Impossible Heap (Galerie8, London), and forthcoming Secret Agents at the Museum of Photography, Helsinki, 2015. Contact Info: email@example.com Katie Grace McGowan (U.S.) is a Detroit-based artist and curatorial practitioner driven by an interest in affect, empathy, and radical subjectivity. From 2011 through early „14, McGowan worked as Curator of Education at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), where she was also program coordinator for the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead. In the last few years, McGowan has lectured at the College for Creative Studies and Eastern Michigan University, participated in research residencies with Craft Advanced Research Projects Agency| CARPA (Joshua Tree, CA); and Prostor Plus (Rijeka, Croatia); and co-founded cultural entrepreneurship firm—ArtCorp. Detroit, with Peter Hopkins. McGowan holds an M.F.A. from The University of Iowa in Intermedia as well as M.A. and B.A. degrees from Wayne State University, in English. Recent exhibitions and performances include Art as Research, at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA), Honor the Supreme Leader, at Bushwick Open Studios (Brooklyn, NY), and Performance Capitalism (reading) at Ditto Ditto (Detroit, MI). Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org The James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History is a division of Wayne State’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, educating the next generation of visual artists, designers and art historians. Wayne State University, located in the heart of Detroit’s midtown cultural center, is a premier urban research university offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 31,000 students.