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A Virtual Walkthrough of Äppärät

24 Nov 2015

Join us for a virtual tour of Ballroom Marfa’s current exhibition, the Tom Morton-curated Äppärät, on Vimeo …

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa from Ballroom Marfa on Vimeo.

The short film, shot by David Fenster, includes commentary from Morton and a walkthrough of the show, which features work from Ed Atkins, Trisha Donnelly, Melvin Edwards, Cécile B. Evans, Jessie Flood-Paddock, Roger Hiorns, Sophie Jung, Lee Lozano, Marlie Mul, Damián Ortega, Charles Ray, Shimabuku,and Paul Thek. More info on the exhibition here.

Glasstire on Ed Atkins in Äppärät

21 Oct 2015

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Ed Atkins
Even Pricks, 2013
Looped 16:10 HD video with 5.1 surround sound
Courtesy the artist and Ballroom Marfa
Photo by Thierry Bal

Christina Rees ponders over Ed Atkins’ Even Pricks (2013), part of our current Äppärät group exhibition, curated by Tom Morton…

Atkins’ images, which unfurl and flicker in a kind of methodical, episodic rhythm, are 100% CGI. There isn’t a pixel in them Atkins hasn’t essentially created from scratch, and this dreamlike surrealism runs beyond the intentional into something else: I want to call his work post-verbal, but as narrative it might actually be pre-received, or pre-processed. I mean that because we live with images on screen all the time and have for years, our instinct for Atkins is already in our blood, even if our ability to describe his intention isn’t yet fully formed. We internet addicts of a specific vintage—I mean we who’ve straddled a world both with and without personal computers—can locate Atkins’ fake-real markers well enough. Here it’s rendered human hands, a chimpanzee, leaves, water, sky, a bed. The insistent, grabby text frames look hokey and familiar, too. Thus we automatically understand that something is happening here we might recognize. That’s what hooks us, and our hunger to realize his pattern of communication is engaged like a heat-seeking missile.

Keep reading at Glasstire. Read Morton’s notes on the exhibition here.

Äppärät Champagne Tour Friday October 9 at 5pm

7 Oct 2015

Champagne Tour

As part of the Chinati Foundation’s Made in Marfa schedule of events over Chinati Weekend, Ballroom Marfa will host a tour of Äppärät, on Friday, October 9 at 5pm.

Curated by Tom Morton, Äppärät is a show about the mammalian hand, and the tools it touches, holds and uses. Taking its title from the name of a fictional, post-iPhone device at the center of Gary Shteyngart’s 2010 near-future novel Super Sad True Love Story, Äppärät is concerned with labor, play and the uncertain zone between the two; with the extension of the body, and the self, through technologies ancient and contemporary; with things (to borrow Martin Heidegger’s formulation) “present-at” and “ready-to” hand; with compulsion and with death.

Äppärät features 13 artists from across Europe, the Americas, and Asia, from major art historical figures to practitioners in the early phase of their careers, including Ed Atkins, Trisha Donnelly, Melvin Edwards, Cécile B. Evans, Jessie Flood-Paddock, Roger Hiorns, Sophie Jung, Lee Lozano, Marlie Mul, Damián Ortega, Charles Ray, Shimabuku, and Paul Thek.

The tour will be led by Ballroom Marfa Associate Curator Laura Copelin. Complimentary champagne will be served in the Ballroom Marfa shop.

Äppärät is on view through February 14, 2016. Read curator Tom Morton’s exhibition notes here.

Äppärät Opening Reception

6 Oct 2015

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Scenes from the September 25, 2015 opening reception for Äppärät. The event featured performance works from Sophie Jung and Roger Hiorns, and was followed by a DJ set by Mike Simonetti. Thanks to everyone who came out!

All photos by Alex Marks.

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärätat Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärätat Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Tobin Levy, Susan Sutton,  Caitlin Murray, Tim Johnson

Tobin Levy, Susan Sutton, Caitlin Murray, Tim Johnson

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Äppärät at Ballroom Marfa

Duncan Kennedy, Katherine Shaugnessy

Duncan Kennedy, Katherine Shaugnessy

Asa Merritt,   Gory Smelley

Asa Merritt, Gory Smelley

Sabrina Franzheim, Fairfax Dorn, Marc Glimcher

Sabrina Franzheim, Fairfax Dorn, Marc Glimcher

Adam Helms, Maria Julia Marometti, Mathew Day Jackson, Jenny Moore

Adam Helms, Maria Julia Marometti, Mathew Day Jackson, Jenny Moore

Some notes on Äppärät

25 Sep 2015

BM-Aparat-Digital-FACEBOOK

Some notes on Äppärät

This is a show about the mammalian hand, and the tools it touches, holds and uses. Taking its title from the name of a fictional, post-iPhone device at the centre of Gary Shteyngart’s 2010 near-future novel Super Sad True Love Story, Äppärät is concerned with labor, play and the uncertain zone between the two; with the extension of the body, and the self, through technologies ancient and contemporary; with things (to borrow Martin Heidegger’s formulation) “present-at” and “ready-to” hand; with compulsion and with death

Äppärät begins with Jessie Flood-Paddock’s Just Loom (2015), a wall painting-cum-sculpture based on an illustration of a worker operating a loom from Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie (1751-72), one of the first attempts to record and systematize all human knowledge in published form. Writing on this image in his 1964 essay The Plates of the Encylopedia, Roland Barthes observed that the operator of this proto-industrial machine is “not a worker but a little lord who plays on a kind of technological organ [who] produces an extremely fine web”. Just Loom combines this Enlightenment-era depiction of labor (or is it leisure?) with a very 21st-Century sculptural tableau, in which a bolt of mesh-like Kevlar fabric becomes the ground for several rubberized casts of the artist’s hand and forearm. Looking at Flood-Paddock’s work, we might think of a contemporary “prosumer” prodding at his or her smartphone, leaving a meniscus of greasy residue on its screen as they do work disguised as play.

From the Stone Age to the digital age, from the pre-human to the post-human, Äppärät suggests not only a neglected history of touch, and of tools, but also how this might help us arrive at what Barthes termed “a certain philosophy of the object”. Originally conceived to hang from the ceiling of Sigmund Freud’s study in Hampstead, North London, Damián Ortega’s The Root of the Root (2011-13) is a sculpture formed from implements created by a community of chimpanzees in the Gashaka-Gumti National Park, Nigeria, gathered by the artist on a research trip in the company of a group of UCL primatologists. (While tool use is common in the animal kingdom, from insects to crustaceans, birds to monkeys, their symbolic use is restricted to the higher apes). If we might read this work, as Ortega has said, as an index of how “the hand transforms nature”, it is also a technological precursor to the objects displayed by Shimabuku in a pair of museum-like vitrines entitled Oldest and Newest Tools of Human Beings (2015). Here, Neolithic hand-axes are set beside web-enabled Apple products of the same dimensions – tools created by members of the same species, albeit millennia apart. The artist’s deadpan presentation inevitably invites questions: which technology might be more usefully substituted for the other, which will persist the longer, which constitutes the greater evolutionary leap? In the Ballroom’s North Gallery, Marlie Mul presents a pair of sculptures that take the form of oversized steel grills, of a type commonly used by street smokers to stub out their cigarettes. Burned, ash-smeared, nicotine stained and stuck with discarded butts, these compositions prompt thoughts about our addiction to handheld “devices” (whether they deliver nicotine, or a constant stream of data), and their inevitable passage from pristine objects of desire to (self-) disgusting trash. Mul has also created an onsite intervention at the Ballroom, Cigarette Ends Here (2015), using spent cigarettes gathered from the Marfa bar, The Lost Horse.

Panda Sex curated by Tom Morton at State of Concept

10 Dec 2014

image

Natalia LL, Consumer Art, 1972- 1975, 16’01”. Courtesy of the artist and lokal_30 Gallery, Warsaw.

Future Ballroom Marfa curator, Tom Morton, recently curated a show entitled Panda Sex that runs from November 29 through January 2015 at State of Concept, a non-profit gallery based in Athens, Greece. Tom Morton will curate Ballroom’s Marfa’s Fall 2015 group exhibition, Äppärät.. Tom Morton is also a writer, and contributing editor of frieze magazine. His previous exhibitions include Mum & Dad Show (Cubitt Gallery London, 2007), How to Endure (1st Athens Biennial, 2007), British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet (Hayward Gallery London and touring, 2010-2011, co-curated with Lisa LeFeuvre) among many others.

An excerpt from State of Concept:

Twelve notes on ‘Panda Sex’:

1) ‘Panda Sex’ is not a group show that is ‘about’ this or that.

2) ‘Panda Sex’ is group show that is.

3) A thing that is has characteristics, ways of being.

4) ‘Panda Sex’ draws its characteristics from the species Alluropoda melanoleuca – the giant panda bear.

5) ‘Panda Sex’ is composed mostly of black and white works – including paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, performances, sounds and smells – with occasional passages of colour. (Panda bears, of course, are colorful in the hidden zones of their bodies: their tongues, their gums, their genitals).

6) ‘Panda Sex’ is composed mostly of works that pay little attention to sexuality. (Panda bears have a notoriously brief breeding season, as fleeting as three days per year, making the ongoing survival of this species a conservational miracle. The current planetary population of wild pandas is estimated at 1,600)

7) ‘Panda Sex’ has no headline theme, no explicit thesis, no apparent claim to make about the shape of art, or of the world. All that seems to connect the works it brings together are their black and white livery, a few flashes of colour, and flickers, here and there, of sexual desire. It is a show that practices extreme curatorial restraint. (Panda bears, although able to metabolize a wide range of meats and vegetation, prefer to subsist on a diet that is 99% bamboo. In her 2013 essay Radical Bears in the Forest Delicious, the nature writer Amy Leach posits that ‘Pandas have their own wisdom, unaccountable and unamendable, whose roots shoot down deeper than we can penetrate, and if they mind anyone at all it is someone more elusive than man’).

8) ‘Panda Sex’ is concerned with how, not what, an exhibition might mean. It takes it as axiomatic that the work of art will always exceed its exhibition context. This is perhaps best contemplated while chewing on a mouthful of bamboo.

The History Man: Tom Morton Interviews Rashid Johnson

23 Oct 2014

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Shea Butter Irrigation System, 2013, the Ballroom, Marfacentral pivot irrigation unit, shea butter, black soap, wax, 4.2 × 2.7 × 3.4 m. Courtesy: the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London; photograph: Fredrik Nilsen.

Tom Morton interviews artist Rashid Johnson in the current issue of Frieze about fiction, humor, and homage in regards to his artistic process. The conversation presents an overview of themes that interweave through Johnson’s sculptures, wall assemblages, films, and performances, including a brief discussion about a piece Johnson created for his show at Ballroom in 2013. A contributing editor, writer and curator for Frieze Magazine, Tom Morton will be the curator of Ballroom’s upcoming Fall 2015 group exhibition, Äppärät.

An excerpt from

TM Your sculptures are overwhelmingly made for – and often allude to – interior spaces. One exception is Shea Butter Irrigation System (2013), created for the courtyard of the Ballroom, Marfa, in which an agricultural irrigation rig was adapted to anoint the Texas desert with melting gobbets of shea butter, black soap and wax. Does the idea of making further open-air sculptures interest you?

RJ I’d love to get outside again. That piece was a huge learning experience for me. So much of my material is intended to live inside. Maybe I’m agoraphobic, so it would make sense that my art is too! I love small interior spaces, where you can lay down with a book and nerd out. Being in a big open space is intimidating to me, in art and in life.