December 13, 2008

Rumball 2008

Just catching up on some posts. Here is the image from the card Junior Ambassador and I sent out this year celebrating our first Rumball Season as Mostlandian Citizens.



November 10, 2008

The Way It Is

Hi Katy -
I found this poem by William Stafford, amongst my files...don't remember where it came from..but, here to share...
-- Rudy

The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change.
But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen, people get hurt or die, and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.


November 3, 2008

Oregon Council for the Humanities: Relating Through Art:

This article in Oregon Humanities Magazine profiles several social practice artists working in Portland, and includes some words I had to say about my work with the The M.O.S.T.


October 1, 2008

Generosity and Greed

Here's an interesting article by Douglas Rushkoff regarding current events in the US economy. He describes our monetary system as ..."a shell game, with losers built into the very rules" and makes an appeal for the creation of alternative economies based on generosity vs. greed.
I agree that a person has to borrow money to do anything real in this world, but am finding that I am more and more interested in the wiggle room created by creative acts of sharing and gift giving. I think this concept is tied closely to the Prisoner's Dilemma I learned about during my negotiation class last spring. What if I can structure situations wherein people are given chances to be generous and are rewarded for even the smallest amounts of generosity?
Personal Advisor worked in that way. Ariana and I introduced strangers to the concept that they have valuable insight just by virtue of being human, and then facilitated the exchange of those insights.
The Committee is working towards a project that would help artists make a living, and I would like our strategies to head in that direction as well.


September 26, 2008

Ode to Summer

Oregon State Fair, Salem, Oregon
Today is orientation for year two of the PSU MFA program.
I made a concerted effort this summer to go to warm places and soak up the heat. Here's a little repository of summer warmth for the cold dark days ahead. Remember relaxation. Remember being unbearably hot.

Warren Dunes, Michigan

Incubate, Chicago, Illinois

Mt. Evans, Colorado
Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Oregon


September 20, 2008

Passage 1: A Wake

On August 11, Rudy Speerschneider (the former T of the MOST) and I hosted the first of four passages we intend to make as we move from being portals to Mostlandia to being bonafied citizens of Mostlandia.

This Passage, titled "A Wake", was an effort on our behalf to recognize Mostlandian Citizens for making the past 5 years such an interesting adventure and to celebrate and bring closure to all of the work and achievements of The MOST.

We flew Jen (the S) up from San Francisco, and spent an entire day preparing a panwich bar (much like a salad bar but with pancake for bread) as well as a special 4-layer ice cream with each layer representing one of The MOST. (vodka berry, vanilla lime, glowing orb, and peanut butter chocolate)

After dinner, The MOST toasted the Citizens, and received toasts in return.

Citizen Winter presented us all with a surprise batch of rumballs, and true to form, many people made the pained surprised look of having their first Winter Rumball.

Chris Hudson and her friend David Kyle prepared a beautiful sonic eulogy wherein everyone present were invited to take one turn breathing in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts (one count for each member of the m.o.s.t.) before passing the microphone to the next participant. the breathing was recorded and looped, combined and played back amplified. This piece can be both seen and watched at Chris's website here.

We ended the evening by performing a set of instructions put forth to us by DAMP, our artist friends from Melbourne. The instructions read:

The M.O.S.T Eulogy

1. Press play on portable CD player (please note: no previewing of audio track allowed)
2. Turn up volume (max if possible)
3. Find a rooftop (or go outside)
4. Each wake participant should each take a sheet of reinforced loosefleaf

5. Fold into an aerodynamic flying module *
6. Simultaneously (on the count of three) ignite flying module with naked flame
7. Launch phoenix into the outer stratosphere
8. In synchronicity, vocalise the following:

M.O.S.T is Dead Viva la M.O.S.T

9. Consume champagne ice-cream
* Flying module refers to a paper aeroplane
The MOST finished by becoming ghosts, something we've been familiar with since we died for the first time in 2003.


September 16, 2008

Toxic CDOs

The Timberline Lodge, above, was built by the Works Progress Administration at the base of Mount Hood in Oregon between 1936-1937. Artists and craftsmen working under the Federal Art Project created art works and furnishing for the lodge.

I hesistate to say too much here, except that the current tanking of America's financial system has me thinking quite a bit about whether I should be in an MFA program right now.

I've been trying to catch up on some of the background of things like Toxic CDOs and Hedge funds, and am finding the following links informative, disturbing and entertaining in varying degrees:

BoingBoing's America's financial system was shaken to its core on Sunday

This American Life's The Giant Pool of Money

With all of this talk of another great depression, I can only hope to live long enough to see the revival of the Works Progress Administration and corresponding Federal Art Project. I better get busy figuring out what the equivalent of a large-scale mural will be by that time. Or maybe I should just start painting. I'll leave it up to the boingboingers to tell me when it's time to bury my money in jars in the back yard.


September 3, 2008

Personal Advisor at TBA:08

Personal Advisor is a service available to anyone looking for perspective or suggestions on living their daily lives. Participants in this service will be linked with other advice seekers to mutually provide thoughtful consideration on one matter of pressing importance in each of their lives. The attendants at Personal Advisor, Ariana Jacob and Katy Asher, can be found in a bright blue booth at locations around Portland enrolling people for advising services. Sign up for this free service that allows you to view the concerns of your life through the eyes of others.

This project is commissioned by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art's Time Based Arts Festival, and is part of a larger project put together by the PSU Social Practice Students called Neighborhood Projects.

TH 9/4 6pm-8pm Jamison Square + 10-? The Works
FR 9/5 4pm-6pm West Side Esplanade

MO 9/8 5pm-7pm Mississippi St+ 10-? The Works
TU 9/9 4pm-6pm NW 21st ave

FR 9/12 4pm-6pm Hawthorne + 10-? Works
SA 9/13 4pm-6pm Pioneer Square



During TBA, the Social Practice students' exhibit at the Autzen will direct PSU students and gallery visitors to our Neighborhood Projects throughout the Portland metro-area. After TBA, participants are invited to visit the Autzen to view ephemera and documentation from the Festival.

September 8, 2008 – October 4, 2008
PSU’s Autzen Gallery, 2nd Floor, Neuberger Hall
Closing reception for the artists:
Saturday, October 4, 2008 | 5-7 p.m.


August 19, 2008

Visit the Cooley Gallery Website for Information on Suddenly

AUGUST 26 – OCTOBER 5, 2008

PUBLIC RECEPTION: SEPTEMBER 21, 6:30 p.m. at the Cooley Gallery
followed by PSYCHEDELIC SPRAWL in the Reed College Student Union

(note: the date of Psychedelic Sprawl has been changed to September 21.)


August 5, 2008

(I hear that Lost and MIA (missing in action) is an anagram of Mostlandia)

Type the rest of your post here.


July 30, 2008

suddenly: where we live now

More on suddenly:

suddenly was born of urban planner Thomas Sieverts’s astonishing observation that “the shaping of the landscape where we live can no longer be achieved by the traditional resources of town planning, urban design, and architecture. New ways must be explored, which are as yet unclear.”

suddenly comprises a set of exhibitions, an annotated reader, and a series of public events that attempt to find these new ways in contemporary art, literature, and the conversations they spark. It will take place at various locations around the world, beginning this fall in Portland, Oregon, and traveling to Claremont, California in January 2009.

suddenly seeks new descriptions that give the landscape where we live an independent identity in the imagination of its occupants. We propose new language to displace ‘the city’ and ‘the countryside’ as the subject of our hopes and our struggles — the subject of our politics.

Throughout his work, Sieverts poses a radical question: what if there is no separate, centralized “city” and no pristine, natural “countryside,” but just one vast fabric of human (and non-human) habitation? What if where we live is an inextricably mixed-up and in-between landscape? Should we — can we — learn to see pattern and beauty in this dynamic, contradictory landscape rather than fighting hopeless political battles to legislate planning solutions for problems that cannot be solved by architecture or planning?

We no longer live in the distinct, ideal realms of “city” and “countryside.” More laws and discussion to prop up those images will not help us live better or more responsibly. What we lack is not smart planning or brilliant architects, it is the will and imagination to live here now, rather than seeking escape within ideas and representations of a disappeared past. We need better imaginations, and better art and literature, in order to initiate an organized aesthetic response to the mixed-up, in-between landscapes where we live.

This is what suddenly tries to provide: an imaginative tool kit for engaging the place where we live now through something other than, something beyond nostalgia. John Cage is an eloquent spokesman for the cause: “Our intention is to affirm this life, not bring order out of chaos or to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we are living, which is excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of the way and lets it act of its own accord.”

Conceived by Matthew Stadler and Stephanie Snyder

Thomas Sieverts •• Saskia Sassen •• Fritz Haeg •• Karl Marx •• Shawn Records •• Lisa Robertson •• Michael Damm •• Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College •• Storefront for Architecture, NY •• The Zwischenspiel Puppet Opera Company •• Program, Berlin •• Frank Heath •• Hadley+Maxwell •• The Corridor Project, Michael Hebb •• Molly Dilworth •• Castillo/Corrales, Paris •• Michael McManus •• Yi-Fu Tuan •• Raymond Williams •• Alexandra Harmon •• Gallery Homeland •• Aaron Betsky •• Oscar Tuazon •• Coll Thrush •• Fernand Braudel •• Rem Koolhaas •• Pomona College Museum of Art •• James Glisson •• Mostlandian Citizens Junior Ambassador and Katy Asher •• Diana George •• Mike Merrill •• Zoe Crosher •• Sarah Dougher •• David Harvey •• Athens West •• Mark Allen, Machine Projects •• Mile Post 5 •• Anselm Hook •• Rebecca McGrew •• D. Lee Williams •• Beaverton Creek Village Mall •• Gary Wiseman •• David Cunningham Gallery, San Francisco •• Colin Beattie •• Lucien Samaha •• Kenneth Mroczek •• Michael Reinsch, the Conversation Grant •• Danielle Dutton •• Marc Joseph Berg •• Matthew Stadler •• Stephanie Snyder •• and others...


The MOST est Mort. Long Live Mostlandia!

The MOST est Mort. Long live The MOST!
Topophilia Trivialist. 14 May, 2008.

Surprising news today in the Trivialist, as it appears that Mostlandia's beloved arts group, The MOST, has passed. Our most up to date information indicates that The M reached a state of fatigue at the thought of another endless meeting, and The S found herself questioning the purpose of the group's presence in artistic settings and art in general. As such, The MOST has declared itself dead and as such will no longer act as a portal from Mostlandia to surrounding terrains.

All members of The MOST are reporting that although this change is momentous to them, the dissolution was amicable. From her home in Oakland, California, The S explained, "Death and change really is a natural part of life. But, you know, it can take time, sometimes a long time, to learn what it means for someone or something to die. And, on the other hand, some things don't die, even when some form they were in died." The O added, "It was a shock to our systems at first, but we all thought that if someone needed a temporary or permanent sabbatical, they should take it. We've been working hard for five years now. That's a long time to dedicate to an effort like this."

News of this event comes as a surprise to many concerned citizenry, who are asking what will happen next. It would be a joke to think that Mostlandia might cease to exist without the presence of the group, but some others wonder whether the stations, such as Ambassadorships and Consulates, as well as the letters themselves, will be refilled. "I mean, isn't that what happens in all of the other organizations across Mostlandia?" asked Citizen Winter. "When an opening comes up, you have to find a replacement. I'd think that the Bureau of Bureaucracy would want new ambassadors." Others, such as Citizen Baxter Nelson, have suggested a monument, such as a miniature golf course be installed at either The S's residence or the Junior Ambassadors food cart.

As part of this change, The M, O, S and T have publicly declared intentions of shedding their letters like metaphorical snake skins and applying to become bonafied Mostlandian citizens. "It's true," explained M. W. Marlow from his station on the Fact Check Floor. "By virtue of being the first known human embodiments of portals to Mostlandia, The MOST were exempt from the citizen paperwork forms 42 NPRS and 13-A5.1. This means that it is now up to the citizens to carry on the public's awareness of Mostlandia. From here on out, the citizens are Mostlandia's torchbearers." For two new citizens, The O and T, their first act will be not lifting the torch but changing their names. The T expects from now on to be known as Junior Ambassador, while The O plans to go by Lady Asher.

Mostlandian Citizen Stephanie Snyder, who is also the curator of the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College, has invited the MOST to mark the passage of The MOST and engage in public rituals of their devising into the unknown territories of the future as part of the artistic and literary venture suddenly.

From his sun filled window at Junior Ambassadors food cart, The T reflected that Mostlandia, by definition, is a place in constant motion, flux, and change, and that above all, it is a group effort. "We would like to invite all Mostlandian Citizens and Citizens of Other Places inspired by Mostlandia to come together in an act of celebration and to witness this passage of hope and intention. We're planning four events to witness our passage from this last place to the next, and we hope that the friends and supporters we've met over the past five years will be able to join us." And join we will.

Long live Mostlandia! Long live The M.O.S.T.!
A wake for The MOST will be held in Portland, OR on Monday, August 11. Contact us at this email address for more information. Flowers and/or balloons will be accepted at 4716 NE Rodney Ave., Portland, OR 97211. Additionally, please join us on September 2, 2008, 7 p.m. at the Cooley Gallery, Reed College, to celebrate the MOST’s passage from one realm to another.


July 28, 2008

The Library Project

While in Chicago, Billy suggested that we visit the public library building. Being the stubborn pragmatist that I am, I wasn't sure what his excitement about this was, seeing as we weren't going to be in town long enough to check out books, but I went along for the ride.

After listening to a blues band play in the basement, and riding the escalators for a while, Billy recalled a talk that Marc Fischer gave last fall at PSU regarding the Temporary Services project wherein the group added 100 artist books to the library collection without alerting the librarians to their plans. TS adhered numbers on spines of the books, manila cardholders on the interior sleeves, and other Chicago Public Library stamps and markings in the appropriate locations. According to Marc, one of the librarians has begun to collect the books and store them in a special location somewhere in the library. We decided to go on a treasure hunt for the collection.

I started our search on the wrong foot by asking a woman on the Literature Floor whether or not she was aware of a collection of artist books being stored in the library. Our interaction was very similar to a Monty Python sketch, in that she immediately asked me whether I was talking about paintings or sculpture. When I told her that I was actually looking for books, artist books, repeatedly asked, "Paintings?" I tried a different tack and said that no, I was looking for books made by artists, and that the books were the art. She said, "You mean paintings. Or sculpture, maybe? ...are you talking about literary arts?" This went on for a while, with her eventually stating that unless I was looking for the literary arts, I should go upstairs to the Fine Arts and Performance floor and ask there.

We were sent on a brief visit to special collections on the 9th floor,

back down to the Fine Arts section and finally were allowed behind the "Staff Only" doors into the Arts Reference room. In a file cabinet in a bottom corner, we found books containing books, books that were actually hats, pants and jackets, books made of salt and plaster, and a variety of other lovely treats. Next time you're in Chicago, check this out!





Powerpoint Extreme: Groups and Spaces

In addition to being really excited about InCubate, I was also pleased to discover that some friends of mine, Josh Ipple and Charlie Roderick of Hideous Beast were the current artists in residence
, and that they were organizing an evening of Powerpoint presentations by an assortment of artist groups and people who run arts spaces in Chicago. It was almost as if they had curated the evening just for me - I spent last year geeking out on animated Powerpoint presentations and arts groups. I'll post some pictures and short descriptions below.

Bonnie Fortune, a graduate student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, started things off with heavy metal music (complete with high-volume amplifier), tie-dye graphics, flashing lightning bolts and images from books published in the 1960-70's addressing large-scale ideological wars, energy crises, environmental devastation, and destructive global capitalism. These images were culled from an online library,
The Library of Radiant Optimism that she is compiling with her husband (and Temporary Services collaborator) Brett Bloom on a website called

Bryce Dwyer who runs the residency program at InCubate gave a much more linear and methodical presentation on how to run your own residency program. Just follow The Five Steps, and you'll be set! (By the way, they're looking for residents now here.)

Members of a gallery space called Green Lantern gave a talk on the trials and tribulations of the Kennedy Family over the years. I wasn't sure how this fit in with what they do.

Linsey Caplice ran a presentation about her group, the Honor the Cheifbot Society's suggested replacement for the current controversial University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign mascot, Chief Illiniwak. The proposed replacement, the Chiefbot, would be nine feet tall, made of cardboard, and shoot clouds of glitter from its head. The Society's top three reasons why it's a robot:

Here's a link to the full presentation in case you're interested. It doesn't read in robot voice like the presentation I saw did, but it still rocks. Link.


Other Options

I've been doing a little online research into the Other Options exhibitions put together by InCubate, and have put together a compilation of a few links below.

Tanda Foundation - Tanda Foundation exists as a web 2.0 structure that allows the creative working class to donate money towards the collection of a monthly tanda, that is awarded to applicants based on votes. By donating money users get voting priviledges, however any user is allowed to apply. The money collected, number of votes, who voted, feedback on proposals are public and published dinamically and in web 2.0 format.

Joanna Spitzner Foundation
The Joanna Spitzner Foundation seeks to expand creative knowledge through its support of contemporary art and ongoing research in art, economics, and philanthropy. The Foundation gives small grants to artists that are funded by wages donated from work performed by Joanna. You can read a blog about her daily life on the job as an administrative assistant at Syracuse University here. (note - it reads much like a day in my life as an AA at PSU!)


ReTool explores tactics that people employ to make ends meet in economically depressed cities. We are currently interviewing individuals involved in cottage industries; jitney services; yard sales; DIY culture; urban gardening; and work exchanges. We seek out all types of informal exchange - from tradesmen who swap a plumbing repair for an oil change, to the hawker scalping baseball tickets outside the stadium and the grandmother selling homemade pies at the church bazaar.

Forays is a low profile artist group based in the north of America, whose work focuses on the research and creation of open-source minor architectures and low-tech modifications of everyday infrastructure.

Hideous Beast


InCubate Chicago

Just a couple of weeks ago, I visited an exciting and intelligent project space in Chicago called the Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday, aka. InCubate. InCubate is run by a group of art history and arts administration students at the Arts Institute who are interested in exploring ways to "disengage with the traditional strategies governing today's art market." In addition to running the traveling exhibition Other Options, a residency program and an ingenious Sunday Soup granting program, they are also using wiki, mapping and TV documentation as part of their explorations.

Bryce, the InCubate staff on hand, gave me several pieces of reading material created by prior artists in residence including a "Sunday Soup" user guide (compiled by Hideous Beast) explaining how to create my own soup-oriented granting program, and a "Cold Call Friendly Phone Book" (compiled by Michael Bauer) listing the names, phone numbers and short descriptions about 41 artistic people living in Chicago who wouldn't mind a phone call from an artistic stranger in need of entertainment/assistance/information.


July 1, 2008

The Corridor Project: Ross Island

On Sunday, I attended a dinner on Ross Island as part of Michael Hebberoy's Corridor Project. From what I understand, Michael is interested in exploring 12 locations along the I-5 corridor over the next year. At each location a different artist will build a table, and dinner will be served.

Sunday ranged from hot to thunderstorms, rain to mist. We drank moonshine, walked on mudflats and watched an amazing sunset.

Other participants in the dinner have posted some pictures at the following location:

Check it out!


June 5, 2008

Group Work by Temporary Services

Co-written and edited by the three current members of the art group Temporary Services, Group Work is a thorough investigation of groups of artists, activists and musicians in the form of interviews and short profiles. Temporary Services interviews the band The Ex, Pedro Bell from the band Funkadelic, AA Bronson from General Idea, ex-members of Political Art Documentation/Distribution, and current members of the groups Haha, Wochenklausur, and What, How and For Whom, asking questions specific to artists who work in groups. Each interview is prefaced by a brief introduction to the group’s history, major events and shows, and current status, and gives context on who is being interviewed and why.

This book provides unique insights into the workings of groups as it is conceived, planned, and orchestrated by a several people who have first-hand experience with the various misconceptions that the individual-centric art world holds towards groups and their practices. In addition to talking about past projects with the artists interviewed, Temporary Services' questions center around: group formation, member roles, communication techniques, common misconceptions by art administrators in terms of compensation, recognition and travel, navigating conflict and negotiation, managing individual art practices in light of group membership, and membership changes, including how groups deal with the death of members.

As someone whose longest collaboration has spanned a mere four years, I found reading about several groups with more than a decade of work together deeply inspiring and encouraging. Many of the questions raised by Temporary Services evoked stories from groups similar to experiences I've had as a member of a group, such as having to explain and re-explain to arts administrators that the more outspoken member of the group isn't the 'leader,' or that all of the members of our group are needed to perform a show and that we can't just send one or two people. I also did a bit of thinking about ways that The MOST could possibly re-structure to give ourselves more flexibility by figuring out a way to open up to new members. Because we've taken on the letters of the word "MOST," we've sort of limited ourselves to adding new people. It seems like a lot of the long-standing groups have found ways to add new people and allow other members to leave if they need to, or if they aren't interested in a current project. I've always imagined my work with The MOST or Mostlandia as something that could last a lifetime, but it doesn't seem like that should mean we have to all work on everything forever.


May 14, 2008

Is Driving Better than Bicycling?

Living in Portland makes it easy to commute by bicycle - which is what I've been doing for the past 6 years. I recently came across this post from the Sierra Club blog about whether or not the fuel a bicyclist uses to power their bike to and from work uses as much fuel as car...
What do you think?


May 11, 2008

Belltown P-Patch and In the Field

This weekend I visited a community garden in downtown Seattle called the Belltown P Patch. I had heard about this via a publication called Belltown Paradise compiled by Brett Bloom. Brett works with a woman named Ava Bromberg on a project called "In the Field" whose work, in their own words, begins by looking at, listening to, and learning from how people transform the spaces they inherit and build new spaces based on their needs and desires. In addition to hosting information on projects like Belltown P Patch, Portland's City Repair Project and the Chicago Compost structure, this website also hosts links to field guides to art, politics and urban planning in other cities. Seems like a great resource for our upcoming lot project!

The garden was in full bloom, and a couple of people were out thinning some of the profuse spring growth in their plots. The air was filled with the scent of flowers, and having read the story of this place made my experience even more enjoyable.


OLCV Annual Dinner for the Environment

On April 25, I volunteered at the Oregon League of Conservation Voters Annual Dinner for the Environment. The Oregon League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization with a simple mission: Educate voters about how their legislators vote on the environment and to hold these legislators accountable. This year, over 850 people attended the dinner, and somewhere around 40-45 elected officials who voted pro-environment were recognized for voting green when given the choice. I've volunteered at this event for 3 years now, and each time am impressed by the number of people in attendance as well as how organized everything is.
The best part is that the woman who runs this dinner, Molly Kramer, is coming to talk to the Social Practice students next week about raising money. It should be great information!


May 7, 2008

Collaboration Research

Shelby and I had a great conversation about defining collaboration during the post-lecture dinner we had on Monday. He has been thinking a lot about collaboration because he has been working with friends and family to co-create his MFA thesis and made the astute suggestion that I post some of the reading I'm doing on my blog. Great idea, Shelby!

In Melbourne, I met a guy named Mark Elliott who had just completed a PhD developing a general theory of stygmergic collaboration. If you want to know what stygmergy is, you might just have to read about it. I have to say I'm only about 30 pages into this 220pg. document, but I'm loving his thoroughness both in trying to define the difference between cooperation, coordination and collaboration, as well as in discussing the ways in which various disciplines such as IT, business and sociology define collaboration based on what their foci are. I'm also really loving all of Mark's flow charts describing the difference between all of those "C" words. I'd recommend checking out his dissertation as well as some of the projects he did leading up to his writing.
Mark has lots of weblinks to his writing and various projects that can be reached from this page:
In the spirit of looking at students' blogs, here's a link to the blog he kept while working on his PhD:

I am also currently reading a book put out by Temporary Services called Group Work published by Printed Matter.

And finally, Eric Steen pointed me to a website called


May 4, 2008

Archive Fever

By far, my favorite exhibit in NYC was to the International Center of Photography to see Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art. This show was recommended to Varinthorn by Julio Morales during his visit to Portland. I'm paraphrasing, but Julio suggested to V that in his opinion, Okwui Enwezor, the curator of this show, is the best curator in the world right now. I don't know if I know enough to say that he is or isn't, but this show was awesome!

One of my favorite pieces in this show was The Specialist: Adolf Eichmann. I found the following description of this film on the International Historic Films website:
On May 11, 1960, Adolph Eichmann, a chief of SS transportation, was captured by the Israeli secret service in Argentina. One year later he was put on trial in Jerusalem and tried for crimes against humanity. Chronicled on international television and on the front page of every newspaper, this was the first opportunity for worldwide focus on the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jewry. Since that trial, the idea of a separate, describable set of events, now called the Holocaust, became part of human consciousness. American documentarian Leo Hurwitz compiled over 500 hours of footage, which Eyal Sivan and Rony Brauman then edited down to its eloquent essentials. The Specialist refrains for the most part from showing atrocity footage. The impact of Eichmann's evil is established clearly and horrifyingly by watching the 55-year-old bureaucrat squirm and twitch, smirking and half smiling at much of the evidence presented against him and by watching the faces of the witnesses talking just sixteen years after the events as they reveal their unimaginable ordeals.

Ever since visiting Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar in 2004, I have been profoundly stirred by the idea that the German people were able to allow the Nazis to run concentration camps. It seems so strange that average middle class people in the cities were unaware of what was going on, and that there was an entire bureaucratic structure in place for making this happen. In addition to visiting the concentration camp, we also toured the Weimar city archives, and were given information about contextualizing Germany's relationship to history, which is so profoundly different from the way that I have experienced history before. I guess what struck me most was that the German people can't romanticize this history, and also can't erase it. And so they are in a position to tell a story that needs to be told, but can't have a happy ending. Buildings are moved 12" to the side of their foundation to indicate that they were once dismantled, shipped to Moscow, and returned to the same spot for historical preservation. Other buildings are raised only to have their foundations filled with the rubble of the building that existed there previously. History becomes something less of a grand statement or bronze statue and more of a subtle gesture towards remembering.

Thus, one of the most fascinating parts of this film for me was the dialogue where an interregator asked Eichmann to explain the details of his working process down to the number of files he kept and how those files were used. Basically, Eichman kept 3 files that he used to decide whether or not to send Jewish people to concentration camps. One file was for situations where a precedent already existed, one file was for situations where there was no precedent, and the middle file was for situations where he wasn't sure whether a precedent applied. The interrogator was trying to get Eichman to explain what he did with the middle file. How much of a say did he have in the decision making, and did he ever make proposals? If he made a proposal, the implication was that he was guilty.

I was struck by how bureaucratic this situation was. I was thinking about my job, and my files, and how surreal it would be to have to talk about the decisions I make based on my organizational structures. I was thinking about how the seemingly mundane aspects of the office world can become incriminating. And I know that this sort of a half-baked rant, but I was thinking about how hard it is to draw the line sometimes between being held responsible for killing people indirectly vs. being the person wtih the gun.


EPA - Environmental Performance Actions

One place we visited in New York was Exit Art. I wasn't as interested in the exhibition on the first level of the venue having to do with the brain and art, as the small (in area yet broad in scope) exhibit in the basement regarding artists addressing issues of the environment called Environmental Performance Actions.

This show included artists we had come to the lecture series this year, such as Futurefarmers and Fritz Haeg, as well as other people I have been looking at, such as Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell. I think that one of our incoming students, Connie Hockaday was involved in the Miss Rockaway Armada, also displayed in this show.
Both Cyrus and Eric asked the curators a lot of questions regarding this show, and one of them said something to the effect of, "Oh, I see why you all might be interested in this environmental stuff, being from the west coast. I lived in Seattle once, and environmental issues are part of your daily life there. You might not have noticed, but people here don't really care about the environment like that."

The show itself consisted primarily of documentation (images/video) and text about the piece. I will attempt to re-create the show in some way by linking to the websites of these artists from this blog. (For anyone interested in researching these artists further, I recommend the website)

Brandon Ballengée From the website: More than many environmental artists, the work of Brandon Ballengée bridges the gap between research biology and art. He combines a fascination with fish and amphibians with the techniques of commercial art photography. In 1996 Ballengée began collaborating with scientists to create hybrid environmental art/ ecological research projects. Since then he has had numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally in which he presents photographs and biological samples of the creatures he collects. He is involved directly with field research and uses the visual impact of science to engage the public in a discussion of broader environmental issues.

Vaughn Bell/Sarah Kavage/Nicole Kistler
From their website, Watermark: "Watermark is an ongoing series of events and performance actions in which we visualize, experience and mark the potential Seattle waterfront—a shoreline created when applying a 20-foot sea level rise due to global warming to the current topography."

Mark Brest van Kempen
From Mark Brest van Kempen has created a variety of artworks using the landscape itself as sculptural material. From the Free Speech Monument on the UC Berkeley campus to Land Exchange at the National Academy of Art in China, his work explores the range of emotions and issues that are embodied in our complex relationship to the environment.

Carissa Carman and Joanna Lake
Carissa and Joanna completed a ten week tour of the United States traveling by waste vegetable oil (WVO) to explore American methods, responses and perceptions of creating sustainable and healthy agriculture. The tour includes stops along the way at a variety of farms and agricultural producers to learn from the diversity of farming methods and alternatives used in the United States.

Rapid Response
'Rapid Response'' is a four-person team of conceptual art activists (Christina Cobb, Peter Fend, Julia Fischer and William Meyer) that has conceived and, is promoting a new, eco-friendly fuel supplier: the Post-Petroleum Gas Station.

Susanne Cockrell and Ted Purves
From their website: Susanne Cockrell and Ted Purves work collaboratively on social art projects that investigate the overlay of urban and rural systems upon the lives of specific communities. Their projects ask questions about the nature of people and place as seen through social economy, history and local ecology.

Xavier Cortada
From Xavier's website: The Miami artist has worked with groups across the world to produce numerous large-scale collaborative art projects-- including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Geneva and South Africa, and eco-art installations on Miami Beach and Antarctica. In 2008, as a New York Foundation for the Arts sponsored artist, he'll bring his art installations to the North Pole.

Carrie Dashow & Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg
Carrie and Jesse work together as the Society for a Subliminal State. One recent project mixed instruction on how to sing shape note music with the first ever presentation of the Rosendale edition of the Subliminal History of New York State, a narrative about living land and history being developed by Carrie.

Erica Fielder
From Erica's website: Erica Fielder merges artmaking with lifestyle and the natural sciences in order to encourage a heartfelt shift to ecologically ethical practices and integrated relationships between humans and the wild blue-green Earth.

Center for Tactical Magic
From the CTM website: The Center for Tactical Magic engages in extensive research, development, and deployment of the pragmatic system known as Tactical Magic. A fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator, Tactical Magic is an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts. At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.

From the FF website: Futurefarmers is a group of practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding us.

Fritz Haeg
From Fritz's website: Fritz Haeg Studios: practicing a fusion of the design arts responsive to humans & environments

Amy Howden-Chapman
From the website Amy Howden-Chapman is a Wellington-based artist and writer, and a member of the performance duo Raised by Wolves with Biddy Livesey. Her practice spans performance, often including collaborations with individuals or as in the case of Save the Whale/The Great Pacific Ocean Rubbish Patch Recreation (2006) with over eighty people when she attempted to re-create the mysterious phenomenon known as the North Pacific Gyre — a massive swirling whirlpool of ocean waste in the North Pacific ocean. Her installations, text-based and photographic works also address pressing environmental concerns and complexities of the urban realm, retaining a gleeful curiosity and an absurdist character.

Basia Irland
Basia Irland is a sculptor and installation artist, a poet and book artist, and an activist in water issues. In 1999, Irland produced the documentary, A Gathering of Waters: The Rio Grande, Source to Sea, based on a five-year, grassroots project which she planned and directed. Utilizing collaborative, community-based activities along the length of the river, the project emphasized the rich diversity of the upper and lower river basins and enhanced public understanding of the river's relationship to the cultural and environmental issues of its adjacent communities. The documentary was seen on PBS and is distributed by The Video Project: Film for a Safe and Sustainable World.

Scot Kaplan
Over the span of one month, Kaplan produced one painting per day for thirty days by doggedly painting along with a pre-recorded episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.

Carolyn Lambert
In the Ohio River LifeBoat Project, Carolyn floated a pontoon boat between Pittsburgh and Mississippi documenting and interviewing people who use the river for drinking water, fishing, farming and swimming.

Robin Lasser
In the fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002 Lasser brought two groups of students to the San Francisco Sanitary Fill. Many enjoyed the opportunity and the experience filtered into their art making process but only a few extended themselves in terms of a more extensive exploration of the site. Two students, however, did a more extensive exploration and worked on a video piece with Lasser titled: Dining in the Dump.

Kathryn Miller
(collaboration by Kathryn Miller and Australian writer/historian Michael Cathcart)

Kathryn transformed a site under a freeway in downtown Melbourne from a neglected pocket of land to a more sustainable and aesthetic place. After cleaning it up, it was planted with 6,000 plugs of native grasses. The grasses provided both a seed bank for future city plantings and as a visual break from the usual concrete and asphalt urban i

Matthew Moore- Urban Plough
Matthew Moore grows fields of various crops and ploughs them in such a way that they appear to be suburban subdivisions and house plans from above. He lives on a farm in Arizona that is slowly being surrounded by subdivisions. His actions comment on the encroachment of the urban on the rural.

Eve Mosher
HighWaterLine was a public artwork on the New York city waterfront that created an immediate visual and local understanding of the affects of climate change. I marked the 10-feet above sea level line by drawing a blue chalk line and installing illuminated beacons in parks. The line marks the extent of increased flooding brought on by stronger and more frequent storms as a result of climate change. During the summer of 2007, Eve walked, chalked and marked almost 70 miles of coastline. As she was out in the public creating the work, she had a chance to engage in conversations about climate change and its potential impacts.

EcoArtTech - Christine Nadir & Cary Peppermint

A mobile, solar-power environmental digital video and FM radio installation made of recycled shipping pallets. Three portable multimedia players inhabit a primitive, lean-to structure displaying videos of diverse contemporary environments while a transistor radio picks up a pirate radio transmission reciting quotations from classical works of U.S. literature that comment on the frontier myth informing American constructions of land, nature, and wilderness. Originally designed to be located along a remote section of the Appalachian Trail.

N. (2005) by Andrea Polli and Joe Gilmore, with weather data modeled by Dr. Patrick Market

According to NASA climate scientists, a dramatic warming trend has been experienced by the Arctic over the last decade that may accelerate global climate change. N. is an artistic visualization and sonification (direct translation of data to sound) by Andrea Polli and Joe Gilmore presenting weather data modeled by Dr. Patrick Market of the University of Missouri and Arctic images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic research program.

James Reed and the Social Sculpture Research Unit/Earth Agenda Projects
James Reed is recent graduate of the Social Sculpture Research Unit (SSRU), a transdisciplinary research unit based in the Arts Department of the School of Arts and Humanities at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England. The SSRU encourages and explores transdisciplinary creativity and vision towards the shaping of a humane and ecologically viable society. It engages with Beuys thinking and work, as well as those before and after him - making available some of the insights, inquiries and explorations in this multidimensional field.

Austin Shull

Brook Singer and Brian Rigney Hubbard

Brook and Brian work together on a project titled Superfund 365, documenting, indexing and ultimately depicting images of superfund (read: heavily contaminated toxic waste) sites around the US. Brook and Brian are interested in bringing attention to the fact that the US tax-payers shoulder the burden of paying to clean up these sites, rather than the businesses who created the messes.

Anne-Katrin Spiess
For “Journey to Green Horizons” Anne-Katrin cycled from New York City to Maine over the course of 9 days in order to draw attention to the amount of pollution resulting from CO2 emissions.

Chris Sollars

Chris whosed video of 11 people as piles of trash, that get up, walk, and sit down again in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district.