March 30 - May 8, 2022, 169 BOWERY | NYC
Claudia Pena Salinas, UNAM, 2018, 20h x16w in, courtesy of the artist and Embajada
Levani (Levan Mindiashvili)
Daniel Neumann with Alarm Will Sound
Claudia Peña Salinas
Opening reception: Wednesday, March 30, 6–8pm
When a cat is surrounded from all sides, he tries to look scary. We are on the brink and the only large weapon we have left is spreading fear. The fear our government spreads is both propagandistic and terroristic, with civilian casualties exceeding 1,000 this month alone. Thus, we suffer from self-perpetuating PTSD on a colossal scale. The collective trauma of supremacist violence blocks our ability to empathize with other peoples, prevents us from seeing the killing of foreign civilians by our armed forces for what it plainly is – murder.
We wrote these words 5 years ago in a catalog for a different exhibition, when Trump’s “Muslim ban” and U.S.-led bombings of Iraq and Syria ran rampant. Sadly, they resonate again today, with Russian cruise missiles destroying Ukrainian cities, another dying empire making a futile attempt to force a changing world into an old mold, unable to break with nostalgia for its inglorious past.
Forward Ground is a multidisciplinary exhibition highlighting the work of fourteen contemporary artists. They take the inability to relive the past as a point of departure, turning friction into textures, creating new forms through inventive use of familiar materials, moving their (back)ground forward.
Rahima Gambo’s video-monologue A Walk mends a rupture, traversing a fragmented landscape of memory, reconstituting unity of body and mind, the artist’s soothing voice giving the exhibition a measured pace. Levani’s The Eastern Wall, a multi-panel painting rendered on glass with thin layers of liquid mirror and enamel paint, suggests the porousness of objects dissolving in their environments.
Mollie McKinley's intimate sculpture of salt and glass embodies her experience of illness and healing. Salt, which in Hermetic alchemy represents the body, presses into molten glass formed by breath.
Yvette Janine-Jackson's Destination Freedom (recently released on the gallery’s vinyl imprint) is presented here as a multichannel sound installation. Its acoustic ecology transports the listener inside the hull of a slave ship crossing the Atlantic, drifting and dissolving into a dark futuristic flight.
Avital Burg's impasto paintings encapsulate the passage of time, their heavy buildup marking stages of life like the rings of a tree. Yevgeniya Baras paints on both sides of the canvas, conjuring a raised topography of personal symbols and remembered landscapes.
Adjani Okpu-Egbe’s paintings incorporate everyday materials and objects, telling parables of love and struggle for self-determination. Daniel Giordano’s sculptural assemblages use unconventional materials to express personal and family histories with unadulterated heartfelt sincerity.
Younma Chlala’s large-scale drawing is based on her memoryscapes of Beirut, a mythological city rebuilt multiple times, a projected city whose future is constantly shifting. Claudia Peña Salinas’ sculpture and prints actualize mesmerizing Mexican and Mesoamerican iconography.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s new project Gram’s Faces examines what an artificial intelligence can and cannot recognize as human in a series of vernacular photographs of the artist’s grandmother. Oan Kim's evanescent photograph is a meditation on love and oblivion in the digital age.
Lesia Khomenko combines the tradition of social realist painting with imagery influenced by digital manipulation and unorthodox stretching and installation techniques to create a new type of object, freed from the wall and the frame.
In the gallery’s downstairs media room, a multichannel audio-visual work by Daniel Neumann, Latent Seeds, layers home studios of several Alarm Will Sound musicians. It is a symphony for the new age sprouting beyond the constraints and isolation of the lockdown.
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Thursday, April 14 | 7 PM
The Man Who Paints Water Drops (2021; 79 min.), directed by Oan Kim
Sunday, May 8 | 4–6 PM
Monday, May 9 | 8 PM
Joy Guidry (bassoon, theremin, voice, electronics)
Morivivi (spoken word)
169 BOWERY, NYC
Adjani Okpu-Egbe, After the Proposal, 2018, Mixed media on canvas, 60h x 48w in
Mollie McKinley, Salt Veil, 2021, Charred salt, blown glass, sheet glass, New York-mined rock salt, 22 x 24 x 24 in
Yevgeniya Baras, Don't Sow Wheat, Here, 2017-2020, 29h x 25w in