stand up next 2 a mountain: portals y paisajes, Curated by William Cordova
Alejandro Aguilera, Nathaniel Donnett, Félix González-Torres, Michiko Itatani, N. Masani Landfair, Martin Puryear, Sol’Sax, Onajide Shabaka, Robert Thiele, Kristen Thiele, Tomas Vu
“in one case, the out of field designates that which exists elsewhere, to one side or around; in the other case, the out of field testifies to a more disturbing presence, one which cannot even be said to exist, but rather to insist or subsist, a more radical elsewhere, outside homogeneous space and time”
-Gilles Deleuze (Cinema I: The Movement-Image, 1983)
Emerson Dorsch is pleased to announce stand up next 2 a mountain: portals y paisajes, a group exhibition curated by William Cordova. The exhibition opens Sunday, April 24th, and will be on view through June 18th, 2022.
stand up next 2 a mountain: portals y paisajes explores the concept of the lens as a portal, frame, or window; an entry point that one can further investigate to unlock narratives beyond the limits of a two-dimensional plane, one that is informed, constructed, and activated by the our personal experiences. The mobility/immobility of this two-dimensional lens operates as a static object on the one hand, while penetrating through the fabric of our consciousness with implied narratives on the other. We, as spectators, enter these portals constantly seeking paisajes or landscapes. Still, we encounter these landscapes through the comfort and familiarity of our individual lenses -further eliminating the possibility of experiencing new discoveries and perspectives.
These familial experiences can be altered by allowing ourselves the time to expand the way in which we interpret the landscape. In doing so, we process and disseminate the parallels between familiar and distant moments/memories; in many cases, those that have been forgotten or displaced. Juxtaposing known images, sounds, and situations with foreign ones slowly create a paradox between the familiar and unfamiliar. By threading, constructing, and overlapping multiple narratives, the artists in stand up next 2 a mountain: portals y paisajes propose alternative perspectives that reconsider the known physical and psychological terrain.
Artists: Alejandro Aguilera, Nathaniel Donnett, Félix González-Torres, Michiko Itatani, N. Masani Landfair, Martin Puryear, Sol’Sax, Onajide Shabaka, Kristen Thiele, Robert Thiele and Tomas Vu.
Emerson Dorsch would like to acknowledge William Cordova, the artists, and supporting collectors, for making this exhibition possible. A special thanks to Bonnie Clearwater, NSU Museum of Art, and Fredric Snitzer Gallery for their collaboration as well as The Félix González-Torres Family Archives for their support and contribution to the exhibition.
To our team: Daniel Clapp, Juan Gonzalez, Rachel Llaveria-Powell, Francesco Casale, Sinisa Kukec. THANK YOU!
About the Artists
ALEJANDRO AGUILERA (born in 1964, Holguin, Cuba) During the last ten years, my artistic work has been completely immersed in my experience as an immigrant, something I consider to be a type of condition, which, in turn, facilitates a particular relationship with the world and the history of art. The artistic forms I have worked mostly on are assembled sculpture, installation and drawing, all seen as integral parts of a certain space. The ideas and themes that animate these forms come from and are directed towards that territory within modern and contemporary art where a strong influence of the so-called primitive cultures is still perceivable. The sources that nurture my work are mainly literary. The creative mechanism that I employ the most is improvisation. As one of my general motivations, I intend to expand upon the idea that artistic forms constantly permeated by notions of religiousness, freedom and beauty are never historically definitive.
NATHANIEL DONNETT is an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner born in Houston, Texas. His practice holds metaphysical and phenomenological spaces that explore the history, space/time, the interior/exterior self, incompleteness, and race. Black aesthetic traditions, music, refusal, fractal theory, and sacred geometry are strategies he uses to challenge conventional timeline narratives and Western frameworks. To reference the vastness of Black social life, Donnett takes a comprehensive approach to materiality. By experimenting with visuals and audio as a language through abstraction and vernacular forms, the works highlight poetics within the everyday. His practice fuses immaterial and material worlds to a spectrum of media, expanding meaning around sociopolitical concerns and liminal spaces that impact underrepresented people and overlooked conditions.
“Art and life are inseparable, and in life, we as humans seek symmetry in asymmetrical spaces to understand the space that is liminal and unknown.” Nathaniel Donnett
FÉLIX GONZÁLEZ-TORRES was born in Guáimaro, Cuba, in 1957. He earned a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1983. Printed Matter, Inc. in New York hosted his first solo exhibition the following year. After obtaining an MFA from the International Center of Photography and New York University in 1987, he worked as an adjunct art instructor at New York University until 1989. Throughout his career, Gonzalez-Torres’s involvement in social and political causes as an openly gay man fueled his interest in the overlap of private and public life. From 1987 to 1991, he was part of Group Material, a New York-based art collective whose members worked collaboratively to initiate community education and cultural activism. His aesthetic project was, according to some scholars, related to Bertolt Brecht’s theory of epic theater, in which creative expression transforms the spectator from an inert receiver to an active, reflective observer and motivates social action. Employing simple, everyday materials (stacks of paper, puzzles, candy, strings of lights, beads) and a reduced aesthetic vocabulary reminiscent of both Minimalism and Conceptual art to address themes such as love and loss, sickness and rejuvenation, gender and sexuality, Gonzalez-Torres asked viewers to participate in establishing meaning in his works.
THE FÉLIX GONZÁLEZ-TORRES FAMILY ARCHIVES was established in 2020 in order to enhance the artistic and personal legacy of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The Archive supports curators, writers, researchers, and institutions by facilitating access to the family’s archive. The Archive serves as the official resource for research regarding Felix’s personal life.
MICHIKO ITATANI states, in my youth, I wanted to pursue writing fiction. Though my main medium has been in the visual arts for the past 30 years, I am still dealing with the idea of fiction; I strongly believe in fiction’s ability to express the deepest truths and concerns.
My process of art-making starts with gathering various fragments from experiences, events, documents, literature, history, science, myths, and customs. I catalog those fragments, mutate them, make images, and let them interact with each other. It is an act of fusing research, observation, memory, and imagination. And I further intervene in the fragments and consider manifold possibilities, though none of the possibilities is conclusive. My painting is a painted diagram of some of the possibilities, consisting of painting vocabularies that are both fascinating and painful for me at the same time. It is my fiction writing. It is incomplete, fragmented, and under inquiry. Through this inquiry into historical, cultural, sociopolitical, and psychological human conditions, I am trying to come to terms with the complex reality of the 21st Century. And my vision stays pathetically optimistic.
N. MASANI LANDFAIR takes materials considered undesirable and redefines the worth and the meaning already contained within them. She uses traditional collage and assemblage to create abstract social commentary, dream landscapes and spaces which she consciously and subconsciously navigates in the everyday.
N. Masani Landfair grew up in the heavily industrial community of South Chicago which constantly contrasted with the teachings and ways of her Southern Grandparents. They lived uninterrupted with much of the southern culture from their transition through the Great Migration. These influences shaped her views of beauty and worth in the simple to complex dilapidations.
MARTIN PURYEAR, born in 1941 in Washington, D.C., was the oldest of seven children. From a young age, he constructed things such as bows and arrows and guitars. Puryear attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., majoring in biology before switching to art. Between 1964–66 he served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, where he taught English, French, biology, and art. There he sketched the West African flora and fauna and learned the craft of local carpenters. After a backpacking trip in 1967 in Lapland with his brother, Puryear spent two years at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm. He studied printmaking in his coursework while working on independent sculpture projects. He also spent a few weeks assisting cabinetmaker James Krenov. As he had done in Africa, Puryear took the opportunity to investigate popular, local craft traditions, but he also sought out modern Scandinavian design. Puryear’s preference for using unadulterated materials and clearly visible methods of construction was evident at this time. His practice of interweaving strips of wood appeared in early sculptures. The artist’s first solo exhibition, at the Gröna Palletten Galleri in Stockholm, was held in 1968.
After returning to the United States, Puryear studied at Yale University, earning an MFA in 1971. Among the visiting instructors who made an impression on him were Robert Morris and Richard Serra. While the unitary forms of Minimalist art would influence him, he would reject both its strict geometry and its industrial fabrication. He further immersed himself in the methods of carpenters, coopers, and patternmakers around this time.
SOL’SAX is a multi-disciplinary artist whose performance work, sculptures, and videos layer complex connections between African-American and hip-hop culture with Yoruban traditions of West Africa. His artwork is subtle, incorporating clever wordplay or creative symbolism to engage with the public in a discourse about race in America.
ONAJIDE SHABAKA’S practice spans media including meditative walks, photography, watercolor, collage, printmaking, artist books, sculpture, and video. His research and writings are a vital part of the discourse surrounding his work. His practice weaves together historical and biographical themes related to social and natural sciences that include African diaspora and Native American cultures. He uses tools from these disciplines to draw out the presence of Africans, Native Americans, and their descendants as intertwined with the landscape and its history.
Recent shows and opportunities have highlighted his work in artist books, photography and printmaking, resulting in collaborations with IS Projects and Nocturnal Press in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Extra Virgin Press, Miami, FL. He has worked and traveled with Diaspora Vibe Cultural Incubator a number of times in the last decade.
KRISTEN THIELE says of her work, my image choices talk about isolation, the anonymity of the crowd, ambiguity, the space between action and reaction, and the ignored places between the deliberate and the staged. Derived from the motion pictures of the 1930s through the 1950s, I’m particularly interested in this era of film and how it aligns with the concept of artifice via opulent and escapist themes.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kristen Thiele lives and works in Miami, FL. Thiele received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995 and her MFA from Miami International University in 2012. After graduating from SAIC, Thiele apprenticed with Chicago screen printer Steve Walters of Screwball Press and learned the art of silkscreen printing, primarily printing posters for local and national bands. Thiele currently co-runs Bridge Red Studios/Project Space, alongside her father Robert Thiele, exhibiting longstanding South Florida artists in an alternative environment. Thiele’s posters were published in the definitive rock poster book, “The Art of Modern Rock” and her paintings in, “Miami Contemporary Artists” and “100+ Degrees in the Shade.”
ROBERT THIELE’S calm intensity emanates equally from his person and his works. An established figure in the South Florida art scene for more than forty years, Thiele sustains a remarkable studio practice that, first and foremost, builds on itself. In paintings that he calls wall constructions, he embeds found objects from the environment. He creates apertures through which we can see a hint of an object. The shape and translucency of the window are essential. The construction is about 5 inches deep, and if the sides are straight, then he wraps them in canvas, painted white.
TOMAS VU was born in Saigon, Vietnam and at the age of ten moved with his family to El Paso, Texas. Vu received a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, and went on to earn an MFA from Yale University. He has been a professor at Columbia University School of the Arts since 1996 and was appointed the LeRoy Neiman Professor of Visual Arts in 2000. In 1996, Vu helped to found the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies. Since its inception, he has served as Director/Artistic Director of the Neiman Center.
Vu has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had solo museum shows in Japan, Italy, China, and Vietnam. He has had solo exhibitions at Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design (1998), Museum Haus Kusaya, Yokuska (2001), Centro Colombo Americano, Bogotá (2012), and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing (2015). In collaboration with Rirkrit Tiravanija as part of their series Green Go Home, Vu received a solo exhibition at Vargas Museum, Manila, in the fall of 2017. Vu is also the curator of the traveling group exhibition DRAW, which was inspired by the drawings of LeRoy Neiman and has since included over 100 artists. DRAW has had iterations in China, Serbia, and the US, and is headed to Berlin, North Carolina, and Cuba next.