November 12, 2016
In conjunction with the exhibition Read My Lips, (on view October 28 – December 18, 2016), this round table focused on the constellation of art practices that have been termed Queer Abstraction, a moniker not without its own limitations. Queer abstraction is in no way a new turn-of-phrase, and its origins would be impossible to locate. The goal of this conversation was to wonder out loud and together, what are the offerings and limitations of this term in contemporary queer art practices?
Read My Lips is a two-person show featuring work by Kerry Downey and Loren Britton that considers queer abstraction as an investment in indeterminacy, which allows for an expansive sense of embodiment, including but not limited to, the slipperiness of gender, affect, desire, and language.
John Edmonds (b. 1989) is a photographer and writer who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA in Photography from the Yale School of Art and his BFA in Photography at the Corcoran School of Arts + Design. His work is in both private and public collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, FOAM Museum Amsterdam Library and the George Eastman House, and has been shown both nationally and internationally.
Mark Joshua Epstein (b.1979) is a visual artist based in New York. Epstein received his MFA from The Slade School of Fine Art in London and his BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Epstein’s work has been shown in recent solo exhibitions at Biquini Wax, Mexico City, Brian Morris Gallery New York, and Illinois State University and in recent group shows at School 33 in Baltimore, Vox Populi in Philadelphia and Schema Prjects in Brooklyn. Epstein has participated in a number of residency programs including the Millay Colony, the Macdowell Colony and the Saltonstall Foundation.
Avram Finkelstein is an artist and writer living in Brooklyn. Finkelstein is a founding member of the collective responsible for Silence=Death and AIDSGATE, which was recently included in Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. He is also a founding member of the art collective, Gran Fury, with whom he collaborated on public art projects for international institutions including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Venice Biennale, ArtForum, MOCA LA, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Creative Time, and The Public Art Fund. The collective had its first retrospective at 80 WSE in 2012, and has work in the permanent collections of The Whitney, MoMA, The New Museum and The New York Public Library. His solo work has shown at The Whitney Museum, The Cooper Hewitt Museum, Kunsthalle Wien, The Harbor Gallery, Exit Art, Sue Scott Gallery, Monya Rowe Gallery, La MaMa La Galleria and The Leslie Lohman Museum, and is in the permanent collections of MoMA, The Whitney, The Metropolitan Museum, The New Museum, The Smithsonian, The Brooklyn Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The New York Public Library.
Chitra Ganesh is a Brooklyn based artist whose drawing, installation, text-based work, and collaborations suggest and excavate buried narratives typically absent from official canons of history, literature, and art. Ganesh graduated from Brown University with a BA in Comparative Literature and Art-Semiotics, and received her MFA from Columbia University in 2002. She has held residencies at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York University, Headlands Center for the Arts, Smack Mellon Studios, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, among others. Her works have been widely exhibited across the United States including at the Queens Museum, Asia Society(New York), Berkeley Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (California), and the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, with solo presentations at PS1/MOMA (New York), The Andy Warhol museum (Pittsburgh) and Goteborgs Konsthalle (Sweden). International exhibition venues include MOCA (Shanghai), Fondazione Sandretto (Italy), Monte Hermoso (Spain), Kunsthalle Exnergrasse (Austria), Kunstverein Göttingen (Germany), and the Gwangju Contemporary Arts Centre (Korea).Her works are represented in prominent international collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, the Saatchi Collection (London), Burger Collection (Zurich) & Devi Art Foundation (New Delhi). Ganesh is the recipient numerous awards and fellowships including the Art Matters Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation for Painting and Sculpture, and a 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the Creative Arts. Upcoming solo exhibitions include a site-specific commission at the Brooklyn Museum opening in December 2014.
Glendalys Medina investigates structures such as architecture, character, language, image and culture. Through drawings, sculptures, videos and performance she pulls these structures apart, pieces them together, and makes them hers. Self-improvement and habitual practices such as incantations and mediation activate her work. Medina’s artistic practice is a spiritual one in which geometry reveals creative intelligence and daily practices cultivate personal growth. Hip-Hop, abstraction, and new age thinking inform the work. Born in Puerto Rico, Medina received an MFA from Hunter College. Her work has been exhibited at such notable venues as Artists Space, Museum of Contemporary Art in Vigo Spain and the Bronx Museum. She has been awarded a residency at Yaddo in 2014, the Rome Prize in Visual Arts for 2012-2013 from the American Academy in Rome, a NYFA Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art in 2012, and the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace residency in 2010.
Sheila Pepe is best known for her large-scale, ephemeral installations and sculpture made from domestic and industrial materials. Since the mid-1990s Pepe has used feminist and craft traditions to investigate received notions concerning the production of canonical artwork as well as the artist’s relationship to museum display and the art institution itself. Pepe has exhibited widely throughout the United States and abroad in solo and group exhibitions as well as collaborative projects. Venues for Pepe’s many solo exhibitions include the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. Her work has been included in important group exhibitions such as the first Greater New York at PS1/MoMA; Hand + Made: The Performative Impulse in Art & Craft, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Texas, and Artisterium, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Pepe’s work was recently featured in the exhibition Queer Threads at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Lesbian and Gay Art in New York, and commissions for the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, exhibitions include a commission for the ICA/Boston’s traveling exhibition Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present. Two new solo projects are scheduled for 2016 – a summer installation at Diverseworks, Houston, TX, with special event works by CORE participant Sondra Perry. Pepe is also known as an educator who likes to trespass the boundaries of fixed disciplines in art and design. She has taught since 1995—for many years as adjunct faculty in a variety of programs and schools including Brandeis University, Bard College, RISD, VCU, and Williams College—until 2006 when she took a full-time position at Pratt Institute as the assistant chair of fine arts. Her own artistic development was a mix of academic training and non-degree granting residencies: BFA, Massachusetts College of Art, 1983; Haystack School, 1984; Skowhegan School, 1994; MFA, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1995; and Radcliffe Institute, 1998–99. Pepe was a resident faculty member at Skowhegan School, 2013. She is now a Core Critic in the Painting + Printmaking Department at Yale University.
Ashton Cooper is a Brooklyn-based independent writer and curator. This past summer, she curated “Mal Maison” at Maccarone in New York. Recent writing projects include an essay for a publication on artist Ellen Cantor to be released by Capricious in late 2016 as well as a catalog essay for Mira Dancy’s exhibition at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Her writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Modern Painters, Hyperallergic, Artinfo.com, Cultured, Art + Auction, Pelican Bomb, ASAP Journal, and Jezebel. She contributed the essay “The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist: An Argument for Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion” to the exhibition catalog for “Lucid Gestures” at the McCagg Gallery at Barnard College. She is the director of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery in New York.
Knockdown Center’s MEDIA page is an ongoing collection of audio, video, writing, and ephemera produced by our arts programming. It serves not only as an aural and visual index of the diverse artistic activities that occur within the space, but also as a resource for artists, writers, curators, and researchers who may be interested in learning more about the practitioners that come through our doors. As a primary source, documents housed within the MEDIA page have been minimally edited and largely unmodified. Audio files link to our Soundcloud channel, where curator conversations, exhibition walkthroughs, panels, and poetry readings can be heard individually, or as select playlists.