Daniel Kohn in Conversation



Watch the Full Conversation

How do perspective, history, and memory influence the ways that we look at the world and imbue forms with meaning? How is the process of creating art also a process of negotiating a relationship with the physical world and understanding how it works? How is an artistic practice an analytical exercise bounded by physical constraints?

Towards Brooklyn, 2002BroadCommission-Month2-Floor1Ferry, 2003

In the face of questions like these, Daniel Kohn’s paintings remind us that image often succeeds where language fails. Although, for Kohn, the point isn’t coming up with an answer as much as savoring the experience of looking for one. Kohn’s paintings straddle abstraction and realism in ways that give shape to ineffable concepts even as they complicate the things we think we know. Through perspective, Kohn might force us to confront landscapes we have internalized like the iconic New York skyline and prompt us to reconsider the historical and personal meanings that we have imposed upon it. Kohn’s paintings confront our versions of history and, in some ways, the concept of history itself as they work simultaneously to displace us and orient us. When I look at paintings from Kohn’s “Seen from Above” series, for example, they remind me where I am standing in physical space at the same time as I am reminded of Kohn’s perspective and the ways he is directing my gaze. Through this intricate process of displacement and orientation Kohn reminds us that the viewer is deeply involved in the process of making meaning. And that art, like science, is a continuous experiment and even those solid things—facts and objects—are really fluid concepts we are constructing and reconstructing as we go along.

Born in 1964 in Ahmedabad, India to French and American parents, Daniel Kohn was raised in France. He moved to New York in 1996 and, consequently, it is no surprise that place and perspective are two elements that he explores in his artwork. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad and was, from 2003 until 2013, involved with the Broad Institute for Genomic Research, where he collaborated with scientists and explored connections between artistic and scientific processes.

You can read more about Kohn and see examples of his work here.

 

Staging Ground Presents 3X30

Three 30 minute performances. Cues given on cue. High meets low meets high meets low.

Meaning in the process of processionals. By professionals, in confessionals.

3x30triptych

Office Hours written, directed and performed by Bethany Ides and co

I Am An Opera written and performed by Joseph Keckler

Pink Melon Joy by Gertrude Stein, directed by Katherine Brook

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

7:30PM Performance

7PM Doors

Tickets $15

Staging Ground Presents

Maroney Theater

St. Francis College

180 Remsen St., 7th FL

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Subways 2 3 4 5 A C F G R

PROGRAM

Office Hours

Written and directed by Bethany Ides. Performed by Lindsay Benedict, Bethany Ides, Thomas Love, Eliza Perlmutter, Sophie Reiff, Cat Tyc, Gabi Villasenor, and Morgan Vo. Camerawork by Joy Lai and Ursula Sommer.

…Behind locked doors, what might be hiding might be a mouse, might have a message, might be that your phone is ringing and someone is answering who had been missing (we thought) … or that where we could play in private, that we’re on a dream date, experiencing real communism while everyone else is asleep …

I Am An Opera

Written and performed by Joseph Keckler.

Joseph Keckler will present a suite of short pieces from, and relating to, his recent performance piece “I Am An Opera” (commissioned by Dixon Place in 2013), a collection of laments and buffo showpieces that tell everyday stories from the artist’s life. 

Pink Melon Joy

Written by Gertrude Stein. Directed by Katherine Brook, assisted by GJ Dowding. Performed by Shonni Enelow, Lucy Kaminsky, Sipiwe Moyo, Nicolas Norena, and Alex Spieth. Designed by Chris Giarmo (sound), Diego Montoya (costumes). Dreamaturged by Shonni Enelow.

Forever radical, forever modern, Gertrude Stein’s landscapes of women are at their most complex in her early play “Pink Melon Joy” where good housekeeping is a battlefield and pregnancy is contagious. Moving briskly between wartime testimony, fractured poetry, and oozy baby talk, a group of women are drawn deeper and deeper into the uncanny valley of their femininity. Brook’s production charts the fanatical pursuit of sweetness amid horror and violence. A third-wave-feminist nightmare, it’s set on revealing the Hello Kitty in all of us.

_______________________________

Bethany Ides sets uncertain parameters wherein actors and actions intermingle wildly.  Her 2013 performance, installation, video and song cycle, I Feel It in My Dreams, was presented at Mandragoras Art Space in LIC.  Operating in/with VISITATION, a collaborative platform for de-institutionalizing strategies, Ides co-led a seminar in experimental punctuation at Governor’s Island and co-curated Initial Contractions, an exercise in spectral vision featuring 25 artists, composers, poets, performers, architects, activists, archivists and cooks in conjunction with Knockdown Center and the Reanimation Library.  This October, she’ll mount her month-long opera, Transient’s Theme, also at Knockdown Center, but not before establishing a provisional-conditional community in Shandanken, NY called Almost-Although.  Ides is ½ of Darkling, I Listen, an occasional witchy pop group and the author of several poetic projects.  She currently teaches at Pratt, SVA and Bard.

Joseph Keckler (josephkeckler.com) is a singer, musician, writer, and interdisciplinary artist. His most recent performance piece, I am an Opera, was commissioned by Dixon Place. Other live performances have taken place at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Issue Project Room, BAM Fischer Center, Joe’s Pub, and many other venues. Keckler was recently featured on WNYC Soundcheck and BBC America’s The Nerdist and has received residencies from Yaddo and MacDowell, as well as a Franklin Furnace Grant and a Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Work from New York Foundation for the Arts. Current projects include a new EP and collection of stories. Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov has been commissioned by ASCAP to write a song cycle for Keckler, which will premiere next year. The Village Voice recently named him “Best Downtown Performance Artist, 2013.”

Katherine Brook (katherinebrook.com) most recently directed She Is King (Laryssa Husiak, Incubator’s Other Forces 2014), and Pink Melon Joy (Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival and Prelude ’13). Katherine Brook / Tele-Violet presented a Noh play, Lady Han, a Noh play, at Incubator Arts Project in 2013, and American Realism in 2011-12 at The Invisible Dog, the San Diego Museum of Art and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Brook is a member of the New Georges JAM and is the Producing Manager of New York City Players. She received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University (2011) and her BFA from NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing (2005), where she recently returned as a guest director for Acting: The First Six Lessons (Fall 2013)

Staging Ground Interviews Deborah Simon


Ursus arctos horribilius
polymer clay, faux fur, linen, embroidery floss, acrylic paint, glass, wire and foam
26”H x 22”D x 22”W, 2013


SG: What is it about animals that draws you to use them as your artistic subject?

DS: I’ve been drawing animals since I was about four, and, except for a brief stint as an undergrad, I’ve pretty much always used them as an subject. I don’t really have a good answer for this question – why do we love what we love? I could say that I like animals more than people, that I enjoy the mystery of them, that I like the fact that I will never know what they are thinking, but none of that really sums up why a fleeting glance of a wild animal is more exciting to me than seeing a human.


SG:Your sculptures exist at the intersection of the real and irreal. The viewer first mistakes them for a real (and presumably taxidermied) animal. But then, on closer inspection, they reveal themselves to be art. How would you situate the realism of the bears in relation to figurative art, tromp l’oeil, and/or hyperrealism?

DS: I never set out to be a realist artist. It’s just the way I’m bent. I’ve tried to work abstractly, but I always find a shape that resembles something – a scottie dog, an eagle, whatever – and tease it out until I have a realistic representation. I don’t think about the bears in terms of tromp l’oeil or hyperrealism. If anything I’m constantly fighting my need to be absolutely accurate and allow the pieces to drift into their own being. I like to walk the line between taxidermy, toy, and sculpture, and I like the tension this creates.

SG: The “natural” question to ask concerns the relationship between art and the environment, or the status of “environmental art.” Do you feel that you are an environmental artist? What, if any, environmental message do you hope your art conveys?

DS: I don’t think of myself as an environmental artist and generally don’t use environmental issues as a starting point for my work. I usually start with the image fully formed in my head without really understanding what it means. If the idea sticks around for several months, I know it has the staying power to keep me interested through the months and months it will take to make it.

By the very nature of using animals as a subject, people read environmental issues into the work. My husband interpreted the circulatory system on the polar bear as a reference to changing ocean currents and the warming of the arctic waters, which had never entered my mind.

I am very careful not to venture into wildlife art – images of charging buffalo and majestic lions surveying the savannah – that treat animals as odalisques there for our enjoyment and control. I want my animals to challenge the viewer and how they think about animals. I see it more of a psychological challenge than an environmental statement.


SG’s emotional reaction to your bears runs along these lines: an affective leap that makes us sympathetic followed by a sort of horror, or jarring fear. How, if at all, do you think these sculptures are tragic?

The emotional starting point for me with these pieces was vulnerability. I was thinking about how bears were both the iconic hunting trophies and are still childhood toys, and how opposed these two roles are. The taxidermy focuses on the power and violence, while the toy is a safely defanged and declawed companion for children. The toy becomes a special friend to help keep the vulnerability of childhood at bay, which in my sculpture, became a toy-size realistic bear that was flayed and exposed. The polar bear evolved on its own based on a strong image in my head, but with other bears I became more purposeful about which organ system and body language I chose. Black bears always struck me as nervous and fearful despite their size and strength. So I chose the nervous system and a defensive but frightened body language.

I usually need to connect emotionally with the piece, even if it’s not what I planned or I don’t understand the emotion. Once the emotion of the animal is set, the rest of the piece falls into place.


SG: What is your ideal context for viewing these sculptures? How does that context contribute to a viewer’s perception of the bears as artificial or realistic?

DS: I didn’t have any idea how to show these pieces. I hate pedestals, but as the bears needed to be seen from all side, they made the most sense. Pedestals, unfortunately, are around for a reason. I have been playing around with showing them on a long thin table, like a scientific exam table, and that is almost working. I’m still looking for the ideal way to show them.


SG: Without describing your entire process, can you tell us which part of making these bears was the most challenging for you, either due to the material in question or otherwise?

Figuring out the relationship of the colors of the linen, fur and embroidery has been the biggest challenge. Unless I want to start dying my own linen, I’m limited to the colors I can find in the Garment District. The textures of the fur and linen also present a challenge. Once the colors, fabrics, and embroidery are figured out through painted sketches and embroidered samples, my process switches to the relatively easier task of making everything and putting it together.


Deborah Simon
deborahsimon.net
Packer Schopf Gallery

Issue 2 Launch Party

StagingGround02_promo_FEATURING

We’re very pleased to announce the release of Staging Ground Issue 2.
We’d like to invite you (and all of your friends) to our Launch Party.
Poetry by Marcella Durand, E Tracy Grinnell, Lucy Ives, Paolo Javier, and Stephen Motika.
Works in translation by Lucy McNair and Jen Zoble.
Music by Rue.
Drinks by Jeff.
Magazines and good company.

WHEN: Sunday, November 10th at 4:30pm

WHERE: Bar Reis in Park Slope – 375 5th Ave Brooklyn, NY

“Staging Ground Issue 2 is made possible with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered in Kings County by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).”

Jarnot on Kurland

Bruce Kurland was born in 1938 and grew up on Long Island, studying at the Art Students League in Manhattan in the 1950s. His paintings span five decades, with an evolution out of the influence of traditional Dutch still life toward allegiances with contemporary artists such as Francis Bacon and Joel Peter Witkin. While the transience of organic matter is a theme of his field, Kurland plays with that classical concern and spins it out of the pastoral and into the everyday, urban, late 20th century world.

Applestrout

The viewer is confronted with the continuum of life that includes all the other creatures that trouble us with their teeth and claws, delight us with their flash of color, eat us, and are eaten by us.

(more…)

BOOG City 2013

BoogCity

Staging Ground is heading to BOOG City, 2013. Featuring a reading by Paolo Javier (at 12:30pm on Saturday, August 3rd) and a new limited edition pamphlet publication.

See the full line-up of BOOG readers and events: BOOG CITY 2013

 

pjavierImage

Paolo Javier is the Queens Borough Poet Laureate through 2013. He is the author of several books and chapbooks of poetry including, The Feeling is Actual (Marsh Hawk Press, 2011) and 60 Lv Bo(E)mbs (O Books 2005), as well as the publisher of a Queens-based tiny press, 2nd Avenue Poetry (2ndavepoetry.com).

Translation Caravanserai

Staging Ground is pleased to introduce Translation Caravanserai, a new web series, featuring pieces by Melina Kamerić translated from the Bosnian by Jennifer Zoble; Edmond Amran El Maleh translated from the French by Lucy R. McNair; Kim Cheom Seon translated from the Korean by Matt Reeck and Angela Choi.

Melina Kameric

Melina Kamerić
from Shoes for Oscar Night

Edmond Amran El Maleh

Edmond Amran El Maleh
A Thousand Years, One Day

Kim Cheom Seon

Kim Cheom Seon
“To Die On The Back Of A Horse”
“Ducks”

Two Stories from Shoes for Oscar Night

The Daughter of the Last Mohican

by Melina Kamerić
translated from the Bosnian by Jennifer Zoble

Her mother made candles. And that’s why Davorka always smelled like a strange blend of wax and the powdered sugar her grandma sprinkled on šapice, the little round cookies we lovingly called paws.

Davorka’s grandma made the best šapice in the world.

Every day when the two of us came home from school with our bookbags on our backs, her grandma would give us each a šapica wrapped in a little cloth napkin. It seemed then that all her grandma did was embroider little cloth napkins and bake šapice.

(more…)

A Thousand Years, One Day

A Thousand Years, One Day

by Edmond Amran El Maleh
translated from the French by Lucy R. McNair

“Paul Celan: no one bears witness for the witness. And yet we always
choose a companion: not for ourselves but for something within us, outside us, that needs us to be
lacking in ourselves in order to cross a line we will not reach. A companion lost in advance,
the very loss that henceforth takes our place. Where do we look for the witness who has no witness?”

Maurice Blanchot, The Last to Speak

I.

The war in Lebanon! June days, summer days under a Parisian sun, hot, torn by violent storms. The war in Lebanon! Was it real?

A man was holding a journal of which we know nothing, nothing but a few fragments, as if, with an incomprehensible gesture, his own hand had torn it up and scattered the pages. Reading at random, decoding absence: an anguished scream fanned out in that space of retreat, powerless before the irreparable, the vanity of speech, the triumph of hatred, an inexorable closure. By sheer coincidence, a mark, a name had escaped from silence and anonymity: Nessim. (more…)

To Die on the Back of a Horse & Ducks

To Die On The Back Of A Horse

by Kim Cheom Seon
translated from the Korean by Matt Reeck

I died on the back of a galloping horse. As a corpse I fell to ground. This happened in my past lives. I died like this not just once but countless times. I died each time before I was twenty. After years of hard training to become a warrior, the very first time I went into battle I would turn in the enemy’s direction and die. This was because I was very brave. I was the type willing to go through hell and high water. Disregarding the flying arrows and spears, I would rush headlong toward the enemy and die. I died like this each time. I never made it to thirty. My soul never knew what it meant to live past twenty. (more…)