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Exhibitions

21c Celebrates Creative Capital: A 15th Anniversary Exhibition

  • James Bidgood Pan, late 1960s, 2005 Chromogenic print

  • Julia Christensen (American), Burnouts, 2014. Videos, plastic with mirrors, glass lenses, smartphones.

  • Sam Van Aken (American) Blind Spots, 2014. Silver nitrate photographs Courtesy of the artist

  • Kerry Skarbakka, Croatia, 2003 Photograph

About the Exhibition

A shared commitment to supporting visionary contemporary art has generated multiple dynamic collaborations between 21c and New York-based Creative Capital Foundation. Over thirty grantees of the foundation are represented in the 21c collection, a selection of which are featured in this multi-media exhibition celebrating the 15th anniversary of Creative Capital, with works ranging from sculpture, painting, photography, film, video, and new media art. Also included are works by four 2013 grantees who are participants in Louisville’s Idea Festival 2014—Juan William Chavez, Julia Christensen, Robert Karimi, and Kerry Skarbaka. 2009 grantee Sam Van Aken is also a 2014 Idea Festival speaker. In
addition to exhibiting his Blind Spots photographs, Van Aken is one of four Creative Capital artists who created site-specific installations for 21c Museum Hotels; his Tree of Forty Fruit is growing at 21c Bentonville, where Chris Doyle’s Unfolded wallpaper installation is also featured on view. At 21c Cincinnati, George Legrady’s photo and animation series, Refraction, lines the hallway adjacent to Healing Tiles, Brian Knep’s interactive floor projection. From Eve Sussman’s transformation of the Classical Rape of the Sabine Women and Chris Doyle’s Apocalypse Management-inspired by Thomas Cole’s 19th century Course of Empire paintings—to the surreal photographs by James Bidgood and Kerry Skarbakka, to the elaborate and detailed figurative sculptures by Nick Cave and Simone Leigh, these works reference the history of art to illuminate art’s central role in shaping current and future conditions. Addressing a spectrum of issues ranging from environmental sustainability, immigration, and identity, to the evolution of industry, commerce, and technology, works by Creative Capital grantees offer thought-provoking perspectives on sharing our world and its resources.

About Creative Capital:  Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel and career development services. Our pioneering approach—inspired by venture-capital principles—helps artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices. Creative Capital provides each funded project with up to $50,000 in direct funding and career development services valued at $40,000, for a total commitment of up to $90,000 per project. Since 1999, we have committed $30 million in financial and advisory support to 419 projects representing 529 artists, and our Professional Development rogram has reached 7,700 artists in more than 350 communities.
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About IdeaFestival: Founded in 2000, IdeaFestival is a celebration for the intellectually curious. It’s an eclectic network of global thinkers and one-of-a-kind innovators bound together by an intense curiosity about what is impacting and shaping the future of the arts, business, technology, design, science, philosophy and education.
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Works exhibited:

Peggy Ahwesh
Anamorphic View #1, 2010
Photograph

Anamorphic View #2, 2010
Photograph

James Bidgood
Pan, late 1960s, 2005
Chromogenic print

Nick Cave
Soundsuit, 2007
Found beaded and sequined garments

Chris Doyle
Apocalypse Management Panorama III, 2009
Digital print

A History of the 20th Century, 2010
Digital print

Braden King
HERE: Location Grid One, 2011
Unique archival pigment print

Kalup Linzy
Can I Come?, 2010
Gouache, collage on paper

About Burnouts by Julia Christensen: In 2012, I visited an e-waste recycling center in the south of India. I saw workers there climbing on mountains of trashed computers, DVD players, televisions, and cell phones, bashing the machines to smithereens in order to mine for the precious metals. These people were processing 200 tons of e-waste that had been imported during the two weeks before my visit, most of it from the United States.

When I got home to northeast Ohio, I began to wonder about the e-waste lives of my own friends. How many cell phones had my friends had in their lifetimes? How many laptops, how many desktop computers? And what did they do with all of this electronic material when the machines were no longer useful to them? I sent out an email to about 200 friends and asked these very questions. The most common answer that I heard, over and over again, was: “I would love to recycle this stuff, but I really don’t know how. So I have a drawer/closet/basement/attic/garage full of outdated computers/cell phones/televisions at home.” We have become a smartphone nation, and constant upgrades are inherent in the design of these powerful little devices; often when people upgrade their iPhone, the old one is still in pretty good shape. This got me thinking about how I could put my friends’ old iPhones to use.

Burnouts is an installation of self-designed video projectors powered entirely by my friends’ discarded iPhones. The light emitted by the smartphone screen is directed through a series of lenses and mirrors that I stripped from decommissioned overhead projectors, beaming a projection on to the gallery ceiling. I decided to use a high-tech material to house the projector mechanisms, to juxtapose with the outdated technologies, illuminating how quickly the new becomes the old in the context of technology. I designed the projector cases using rapid prototyping software, and had them fabricated at an industrial 3D-printing plant outside of Cleveland.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned that our electrified culture is making the planet Earth a very bright member of the cosmos, due to artificial light. As light pollution has increased on our globe, scientists have deemed certain constellations in the night sky irrelevant to the study of the universe, primarily because their component stars can no longer be seen from our glowing Earthly viewpoint. As a result, dozens of constellations have been retired from current star maps. I worked with a planetarium staff to locate where five of these constellations could have once been seen, and made animations of them for the iPhone projectors to project on to the gallery ceiling. I chose star groups that were named for technological innovations: The Hot Air Balloon, Herschel’s Telescope, The Electric Generator, The Print Office, and The Sundial. It is a fitting homage for these constellations to be projected by devices built out of decommissioned––and yet still functioning––cell phones. The nature of the Burnouts projectors requires pitch dark to experience them fully, so the quest for darkness is inherent in the piece.

– Julia Christensen, August 2014

About the artist: A native of Bardstown, Kentucky, Julia Christensen is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores systems of technology, consumerism, landscape, and history. Her work has been exhibited internationally, at venues such as the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Carnegie Museum of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh; Center for Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece; Lincoln Center, New York City. Her writing has been published by Orion, Print, Slate, and others, and her book, Big Box Reuse, was published by MIT Press in 2008. An active musician, Christensen is the founder of WAM!: Women and Art Music Ensemble. She is Assistant Professor of Integrated Media in the Studio Art Department at Oberlin College.

Burnouts is one of the first pieces in a large, ongoing body of work by Julia Christensen called Project Project, which examines our cultural relationship with electronic trash. Project Project is supported by the Creative Capital Foundation, which awarded Christensen a 2013 Emerging Fields grant.

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