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MANY PLACES AT ONCE

April 17-July 12, 2014 / Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

Featuring works by Martin Soto Climent, Rana Hamadeh, Li Ran, Cinthia Marcelle, William Powhida, Ian Wallace, and Real Time and Space.

Many Places at Once is an exhibition curated by the graduating class of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts with the support of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. The eleven curators are: Kenneth Becker, Patricia Cariño, Marion Cousin, Pierre-François Galpin, Leila Grothe, Callie Humphrey, Danielle Jackson, Marie Martraire, Lauren O’Connell, Marja van der Loo, and Megan Williams.

Decades after the “post-studio” turn announced by Minimalism and Conceptual art in the 1960s, Many Places at Once reconsiders the place of artistic production in our era of creative industries and flexible labor. Featuring new commissions and existing works by seven international artists, the exhibition presents artworks that call attention to the nuanced circumstances that characterize the economic, social, and technological conditions in which artists work today.

The exhibition departs from the performance entitled At Work 1983 by the Vancouver-based artist Ian Wallace (b. 1943, Shoreham, England), in which the artist presented himself in the window of the artist-run Or Gallery in Vancouver, late at night, seated behind a simple desk, engaged in reading, thinking, and drawing. Staging himself before the city’s nightlife as an intellectual worker rather than a paint-spattered bohemian, Wallace embraced the new nature of art as thought over making, while reflecting on his new identity with tongue firmly in cheek. Many Places at Once includes a video of his original performance and large-scale drawings he produced during his tenure in the gallery window. New photographs in Ian Wallace’s Hotel series (1986–ongoing), made for this exhibition, marry photography and painting, and show the temporary “studios” that are the hotel rooms he occupies as he travels.

Alongside Wallace are recent works by other artists that embody different notions of the place of artistic production. Cinthia Marcelle (b. 1974, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) produces drawings while attending art events such as artists’ talks. Martin Soto Climent (b. 1977, Mexico City) makes the pages of his journals and notebooks his site of production. Rana Hamadeh (b. 1983, Beirut, Lebanon) creates sculptural cabinets and vitrines where her archives are displayed, which she animates through performances. William Powhida (b. 1976, New York) generates diagrammatic drawings that reflect critically on the art world and the network it represents. Through videos and performances, Li Ran (b. 1986, Hubei, China) uses mimicry, satire, and irony to challenge the representation of artists’ identity and work. In dialogue with the above, the shared studios of Oakland-based Real Time and Space (established in 2011) evidence a continuation of the artist’s studio as a physical location, with the added dimension of group self-organization.

Taken individually, each contemporary work presents a site: a hotel, a notebook, an archive, a network, an event, or a theatrical stage. Together they constitute the “many places”—physical and conceptual—that “at once” constitute a reimagined artist’s studio.

An accompanying publication will provide an opportunity for further engagement with each featured practice through interviews with the artists, focusing on their processes and places of production.

The exhibition’s programming will engage the Bay Area arts and education communities to develop dialogues on the pressing issues facing artists and creative professionals, with several conversations and public roundtables. Many Places at Once will also feature performances or events by Rana Hamadeh, Li Ran, and members of Real Time and Space. For a schedule of these programs, please visit the Wattis calendar.

An accompanying publication will provide an opportunity for further engagement with each featured practice through interviews with the artists, focusing on their processes and places of production. Download publication here.

About CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice
Founded in 2003, CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice offers an expanded perspective on curating contemporary art and culture. Alongside traditional forms of exhibition making, this two-year master’s degree program emphasizes the momentous impact over the last half-century of artist-led initiatives, public art projects, site-specific commissions, and other experimental endeavors that take place beyond the confines of established venues. It is distinguished by an international, interdisciplinary perspective, and it reflects San Francisco’s unique location and cultural history by placing a particular importance on the study of curatorial and artistic practices in Asia and Latin America. For more information, visit cca.edu/curatorial-practice.

Installation views by Johnna Arnold © Wattis Institute 

Erin McElroy, founder and director of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project presenting her work on the evictions and displacement in San Francisco. Had the pleasure of presenting at The Wattis Institute yesterday as a part of the programming for the current exhibition Many Places at Once #mpao #wattis #cca #ccavcs (at Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts)

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Rana Hamadeh - Interview by Pierre-François Galpin

After meeting for the first time at Rana Hamadeh’s Rotterdam studio in January 2014, she and the curator Pierre-François Galpin met virtually to talk further about Hamadeh’s projects, her work to be featured in Many Places at Once, and her artistic practice in general. This interview is the result of a series of conversations via Skype, Google Docs, and email, sent between San Francisco (in the mornings) and Rotterdam (in the evenings) during February and March 2014.

“Pierre-François Galpin: Within the concept of the exhibition Many Places at Once we, the curators, attempt to identify places (physical and conceptual) of contemporary artistic production. Traditionally, the studio is a physical space where objects are produced. How would you define your studio: as a space, a practice, an idea, or maybe something else?

Rana Hamadeh: I am not sure how to think of the term “studio.” I have never attached this term to my practice, particularly since I have never seen myself as an artist who produces objects (even though I do use objects in my work). I see my practice as an effort to script, map, and choreograph ideas and thoughts, associations, hypothetical and theoretical gestures, conversations, and so on. For me this effort attempts to generate a space within which a discussion can happen—a possibility to open up a discursive space. In this sense, if I have to identify an operational space within which I can think and produce work, I would think of this space as my mapping process. 

This mapping involves the construction of particular relations among certain objects, thoughts, texts, and documents that I continually collect over time. But I also obtain and collect many of these elements through this mapping process itself. The collection and the mapping are simultaneous processes. In this sense, I see my space of work as the possibility itself to think. I do not take this possibility for granted.

(…)

The way I work now is to construct situations in which objects are displayed and used as part of a story that I create. For instance, take the work Al Karantina (2013), which is part of the project Alien Encounters and will be featured in your exhibition Many Places at Once. In this work, I display some sort of cabinet of wonders—a museum-looking mode of display—whose drawers contain photographs, objects, and artifacts. Yet this cabinet is built particularly as a “stage,” or as the scenography for a play. It is a stage that uses and appropriates its seemingly archival function. In this sense, I am not only appropriating documents and objects, but actively constructing an entirely different meaning of their context: not only what the objects themselves mean, but also how they have been institutionalized and presented.”

Read the rest of Rana Hamadeh’s interview, as well as the catalogue essay and other artists’ interview, in the Many Places at Once online catalogue.

Many Places at Once is on view at the Wattis Institute until July 12.

Image: Rana Hamadeh, Al Karantina, 2013. Lecture-performance; cabinet with various objects from the artist’s collection. Originally commissioned for the Magic of the State exhibition, Beirut in Cairo, Egypt.