Archive for environment

Entering…Tent City

Ant Farm 1971

‘Entering…Tent City-The melting of architecture into film, art and life.’

Mark Shunney will lead a tour and lecture of the current exhibit-

‘Chip Lord: Public Spaces’

University of California Santa Cruz – Porter College

Sesnon Art Gallery –

Wednesday, March 2    5:00-6:45PM

The short presentation will cover the influences Shunney observes in Lord’s work and the relevance of this exhibition to current world events and contemporary art.

The program for the lecture is as follows:

The first part will expose a pattern and relationship seen in the international art and film community and the work of Ant Farm and Chip Lord.   The talk will compare a diverse grouping of artworks from the 1960’s to current day.  Some of the selected artists that will be discussed are Vito Acconci, Cindy Sherman, Adrian Piper, Martin Kippenberger, Chris Marker, Tino Sehgal, The Yes Men and Andy Warhol.

The last part of the lecture will look at current world events starting at the turn of the 21st century.  Beginning with Sept. 11, 2001 and leading into the recent events happening in 2011 with Egypt and the greater Middle East .  The past years are witness to large transformations and paradigm shifts.   Shunney will use this perspective to understand and look at Lord’s exhibition.  Concluding with a discussion on what public space and international travel means to the early 21st century observer and artist alike.

Mark Shunney is an artist, critic and curator.  In 2001 Mark opened and operated a contemporary art gallery in a storefront in D.U.M.B.O. Brooklyn, NY.   Since completing his graduate degree in sculpture in 1997 at RISD, Mark has maintained a studio focus in sculpture and installation art.  Starting in 1997 he maintained his studio in Brooklyn (DUMBO & Red Hook) and concluded in the South Bronx before moving it to the forest of Felton, California in 2005.



CROW – judd

As the Crow tribe flew over and traveled on the soil that is now the United States.  I  would like to propose a show that exposes the graphic connections that are apparent between minimalism and native North American culture.  This will be based specifically on graphics, objects and tools.  I have a direct example of a Crow medicine bag that links this show’s thesis in solid soil.  From this context I would like to install a group of objects that represent this ancient culture’s color and graphic methods, and compare it to the early years of artist who immigrated from Europe to the US following the conclusion of WWII.  Concluding the exhibit with example’s from the period of Minimalism between the late 1950-1970’s.

I feel the intention of the show succeeds best on the grounds of Paula Cooper’s gallery.  Her profound focus in preserving the Minimalist’s impact on America and the international art scene is extremely impressive.  The current space allows for one of the most optimal experiences for this type of work and scale.  Another perspective is the ease in which I would be able to access certain works with the assistant of Paula’s gallery and contacts.  Lastly there is something really strong about this happening on the island of Manhattan.

I also feel that an institutional setting will affect some of the beauty that gets presented.  Context is everything in this subject of investigation.  A private space can have better controls and take risks that an institution is challenged to catch up to.

The current conversations around fine art, sustainability and environmental issues seamlessly mix into this concept, writing and ultimate exhibit.  I see the intentional and universal connections between these different native and imported shamans, artists and writers as a very potent and relevant topic for the day.  The show slows histories down and clearly points to a long and connected language between current and past cultures.  CROW – judd is an example of how art can strip down and point to the whole of things, and examine the cycle of how all things are connected.

little boy and the scenic view

little boy … scenic view

Yesterday as I looked out at the Pacific Ocean I was struck with a heightened awareness of the many lost souls flying above the sea.  It brought me back to an earlier conversation where I was reminded that over 80,000 people died in the course of an hour on August 6, 1945.  Hiroshima and the American NUKE named ‘little boy’, the child of a bigger package named ‘Fat Man’.  After processing this knowledge with some other facts I came across this week- over 42,000 Vietnamese have died because of left behind American land mines, this happened between 1976 (the end of the war) and 2005.  All of this informed my every step of silence in a walking meditation.  Allowing the many lost in the name of WARS pass thru me.  I concluded the walk with this thought- Peace never killed a soul.

Later as I redirected my view a pang came over my core.  Twitter brought down by hackers for nearly 24 hours and a slower version of facebook during the morning hours- ‘denial of access’ for all free beings looking for speed.  Upon a closer look I found the president (lowercase for a reason) of Iran is being sworn in for a second term on the Koran and the million never showed.

As the day came to an end I scratched my head in disbelief that no media groups even spoke of the day ‘little boy’ was dropped by an American man flying over Japan.   Is this why WARS go on?  We don’t talk about them?  This sounds a lot like my childhood in New England where we said very little and didn’t see that much change.

I hope that my little boy grows up learning a different understanding of the past, future and present.  Yesterday gave me little HOPE.  We should never live a breathing moment in FEAR.  We need to shift this tide and slowdown.  Start looking at the physical landscape closely and move forward with educated conversation on the future, without war and with a world connected by free communication.

WARS- Jeremy Deller and America

To follow is a letter I have had no luck sending over to Jeremy…

Hello Jeremy,

I enjoy the work very much and I find our approach and observations , at times, similar with to one another.  One of the main differences being our citizenship; my being American and you British.  Which as an artist is very important to the specifics and context of making work.  You also have three years on me in the sixties but I have no less of a respect and inspiration for the entirety of the counter culture movement and its effect on us now.  

The reason I was prompted to write you is the recent release I received on your project with CreativeTime, The New Museum and others- ‘It Is What It Is’ .  It is perfectly timed and a great reminder for the fast moving American and all the media distractions around the economy which results in less coverage and reminders of the devastating wars going on.  With this said my only question is why you don’t mention the involvement of the UK in this war?  Seeing how you are British I know it is important to you, and I am amazed at your fascination with America but remember the wars wouldn’t have happened without the UK involvement; past, present and future.  I hope this comes to surface more than once with your tour through the US.  I also find it funny that you will not make it to the Bay Area with your project.  What is the intention in this?  Have they already been won over and need no prompted discussions around the current wars?  I also wonder if you have done sufficient research to achieve the understanding that the greatest Middle Eastern populations exist in the Bay Area of California.  

I am looking forward to seeing what kind of bats make it out of this cave.

All the best, Mark

Transformation- RAIN

A world set into motion. There is no longer time to sit around and watch your generation grow old.  Now is the time to become the voice and action of change.  We don’t know all that much.  They killed the natives before understanding their keen sense of the land that they stole.  Let us now ask questions and push up the stream that will sustainably filter our actions into a cleaner body of thought.  Quality rots in the minds of the educated.  They throw tradition in your face to quell the uprising.  Tradition is based on knowing less then the present.  Let us move beyond this.  Compost your waste to gain an understanding of death.  There is no need for gold when you have solar and wind.  Remember all that surrounds us is part rock, air and water.  It is that basic!  Let us simplify our landscape and make for a multicultural community around unity, health and freedom.  

Next Artist Colony- Mars

Next Artist Colony- Mars

Here we have another example of greed winning over culture. The artist as investor for a decade and then the government/developer comes in and sweeps them up and ushers in a “viable” landscape for the public of New Jersey. The artist pioneered this stagnant, toxic and post industrial enclave located on their shores. Only to witness the government and its guiding developers at work stripping it bare of all the history, recent and past, that brought this area to life. The next chapter is being written through the actions of knocking down old world mills and erecting generic high rise buildings that will rationalize the funds used to build the PATH train station. Why can’t New Jersey make a little preserve for the arts that put Jersey City in the minds of New Yorkers and New Jersey residence alike? Look at all the money and work they do for the sports industry. Is art any different? I feel this is another example of the artist in the post industrial landscape of cities. The artist does the best public relations for an area and then the developers thank them for the free services by wiping out their very existence- right down to the buildings.

Adjusting Vision of Waterfront Arts District to Include High Rises
Published: May 15, 2008
Whether or not you care to see Jersey City as New York’s sixth borough, you could write an interesting urban history centered on the area now designated as its Powerhouse Arts District.

Artist as TOOL


Brooklyn, NY is getting closer to sprouting its vision for the 21st century with a design by the international architecture/art star Frank Gehry. Gehry’s complex of buildings will amass housing, shopping and a sports arena. For the obvious reasons in America there will be no cultural component for the arts. One might argue they already have the Brooklyn Academy of Music and a museum anchored into the park. Isn’t this enough for the city who is second to that of Manhattan? I think differently, Brooklyn is the city that houses the most artists per acre of any soil on this planet! It is like the corn industry in the middle of America, once it took root, it has become infectious and grows like a weed. In New York it started at the first subway stop out of ‘the city’ and now it is at the tenth or more. People are trying to hold onto a certain neighborhood status even though they are over nine stops out of the real center.

In recent months I have been reading, from California, the horror and tragedy of certain artist occupied buildings in Brooklyn. No, the news never seems to break from a building in Manhattan because the high economy has helped push an exodus of the cultural producers(artists, writers, dancers, actors and designers) from the island over to the mainland of Brooklyn. Cheap rents, space, pioneering neighborhoods and a sense of community have attracted the shift. Soon Manhattan will be secured and occupied by the international portfolios of the super wealthy and the tourist. Sad as it seems it has become closer to the truth in just the two years since I have relocated from Brooklyn. The issue is getting the attention of the city government and they have formed teams and entertained meetings that try to understand the consequence of this plight.

Why do I go into this stuff? Well, it is based in a theory that I have concerning the artist as tool and I use tool in the most degrading way. After the success of Soho and then Tribeca, each have become valuable neighborhoods that artists originally pioneered, the developers got smart. The developer uses the artist as a bookmark and allows them the fiction of a few productive years in a post industrial loft space. During this time the renter usually has no heat or very little (business hours), cold water (that is likely positioned in the communal hall) and no conveniences on the street. If they build it, as artist triumphantly do, the rest will come. Wow! Does this not describe the last decade? The devastating conclusion to this NYC story is that the developers do not renew leases and start fixing everything from the sidewalk to the stand pipes and put it all up for sale.

The district of D.U.M.B.O. (down under the manhattan bridge overpass), Brooklyn turned overnight and now you can get chocolate from Jacque Torres and Starbuck’s coffee for the other hand. In the past you would not be lucky to find a quart of milk in this district. Yes this is a neighborhood with a few barriers(the expressway, Farragut projects and the East river) that prevent a scene like Willaimsburg from spilling so far out but it created what all developers would like to happen, demand over supply. Taking this into account I firm up my belief that this is the real future of New York City. ‘No man is an island’, cries out from my childhood, and I wonder if it is the artists that find the island for the man to take control over, and every step of the way the man hides behind the ‘good’ work they do for the arts? It definitely appears to be going this way and I think this can be viewed as a critique of the frantic art collecting going on currently with the contemporary art world. Here is an idea maybe they should start having art and design fairs in the neighborhoods these artists live? I then wonder who would be empowered by this sustainable way of creating an economy around the arts?