Alexandra Bell,  No Humans Involved (Process Notes): After Sylvia Wynter  (detail), 2018. Archival inkjet print.

Alexandra Bell, No Humans Involved (Process Notes): After Sylvia Wynter (detail), 2018. Archival inkjet print.

Original Language
Curated by Natasha Marie Llorens
September 7 - October 11, 2018

Opening reception: Friday, September 7, 6-8PM

Exhibiting Artists
Wilder Alison, Alexandra Bell, Al Freeman, Ariel Jackson, Shellyne Rodriguez, Leah Weinberg-Moskowitz

Performance
Saturday, September 8, 3pm
All I See Is Blue by Ariel Jackson, performed with Michael Love


CUE Art Foundation is pleased to announce Original Language, a group exhibition presenting the work of six artists who are invested in the relationship between language and violence. The work maps a range of responses to the paradoxical fact that while it is urgent and necessary to use language in protest, language is also routinely the very site of structural violence. 

ARE YOU THE GOODS? ('Les Biennes') is a paper bag installation by Wilder Alison. The mural-scale work is comprised of approximately thirty silkscreened paper bags hung open on the back wall of the gallery, which is also painted with a color field background. The text is the narrative of a dream Wilder once had, which encompassed a word-play between French and English: les biens translate to the goods, while lesbians means the same thing in both languages. 

The Central Park Five are five men of color wrongly convicted of assaulting and raping Trisha Meili, a white female jogger in Manhattan’s Central Park, on the 19th of April, 1989. Alexandra Bell’s installation presents several weeks of reporting by the Daily News on the young men’s arrest, annotated and edited to reveal the racist violence perpetrated by the newspaper’s use of language. 

Al Freeman’s vinyl soft sculpture rendition of the Greek alphabet and accompanying drawings on paper consider the alphabet a subject, rather than simply a vehicle for semantic sense. In an American context, the Greek alphabet is widely used by university sororities and fraternities, which has shifted its aesthetic association to a certain kind of youth culture and its rituals of initiation. 

The images projected onto both sides of a free-standing blackboard show the artist, Ariel Jackson, drawing a diagram as though she were lecturing a class. Drawing both from Judith Carney’s work on the transmission of African farming techniques during slavery and from her own grandfather’s mechanical library, Jackson renders the history of knowledge lost, recovered, and transformed through several generations of African Americans in the South.  

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for the attention they pay to diversity in their promotional materials, which are full of pictures of people of color glowing with the light of inner salvation. Shellyne Rodriguez cuts these figures out and re-contextualizes them on paper bag backgrounds, collaged with speech bubbles cut from lottery ticket paper. Each kind of paper used in the work represents an aspirational discourse in the Bronx, a site deeply marked by structural violence. 

The body as the agent of language appears in neither Leah Weinberg-Moskowitz's video installation nor in the accompanying photographs. The video plays inside a headset, isolating the viewer's visual experience from the rest of gallery without physically separating the work from the common space of the exhibition.  It depicts a hovering point of light which the camera frame drifts about elliptically to spell the letters "S - U - I - C - I - D - E - N - O - T - E.”

Original Language is organized by Natasha Marie Llorens, an independent curator and writer based in Marseille and New York. Her curatorial research is focused primarily on the relationship between violence and representation in contemporary art from a feminist perspective. She has curated exhibitions at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (Brooklyn), REVERSE Gallery (Brooklyn), the Project Space at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (NYC), Ramapo College (New Jersey), the Zabludowicz Gallery (London), Momenta Art (Brooklyn), the Aronson Gallery at Parsons Design School (NYC), the Essex Street Market and Cuchifritos Gallery (NYC), Skowhegan’s space in Manhattan (NYC), and Hercules Art Studio Program (NYC). She has held curatorial residencies at Marra Tein in Beirut, Triangle Arts Association in New York, Rond Point Projects in Marseille, Tabakalera in San Sebastian, and PRAKSIS in Oslo. She has taught at Columbia University, the Cooper Union and Eugene Lang College, all in New York City, and in the Curatorial Studies MA program at Parsons in Paris. A graduate of the MA program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard, she is currently a PhD candidate in Modern and Contemporary Art History at Columbia University. Her academic research is focused on the representation of war in Algerian national cinema between 1965 and 1979.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 40-page color catalogue, with texts by Natasha Marie Llorens and Ladi’Sasha Jones. The catalogue is available online and free of charge to gallery visitors. For more information please contact Programs Assistant Lilly Hern-Fondation at lilly@cueartfoundation.org. 

This exhibition is the winning selection from the 2017-18 Open Call for Curatorial Projects. The proposal was unanimously selected by a jury comprised of panelists Larry Ossei-Mensah, independent curator and cultural critic; Kate Shepherd, artist; and Shannon Stratton, Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design. In line with CUE’s commitment to providing substantive professional development opportunities, panelists also serve as mentors to the exhibiting artists, providing support throughout the process of developing the exhibition. We are honored to work with Shannon Stratton as the Mentor of this exhibition.

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Catalogue essay: Cogitations on Surviving Language by Ladi'Sasha Jones

Wilder Alison is an interdisciplinary artist and a 2016 graduate of the Bard MFA painting program. In recent years, Alison has exhibited work in New York City with 247365, Rachel Uffner, Culture Room, Primetime, and Garden Party Arts, among others. Alison has apprenticed at the Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia, PA; and has participated in residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; Lighthouse Works, Fishers Island, NY; Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, MI; Fire Island Artist Residency, Fire Island, NY; and the Lower East Side Printshop, New York, NY. Alison will be a second year fellow at FAWC in 2018-19. 

Alexandra Bell is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, We Buy Gold, Koenig & Clinton Gallery, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, all in New York, NY; Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA; Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS; and Usdan Gallery at Bennington College, Bennington, VT. She is the recipient of the 2018 International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the applied category. Bell holds a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities from the University of Chicago and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Al Freeman lives and works in New York. She received her BFA from Concordia University in 2005, and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2010. Her work has been featured in numerous group and solo presentations, including recent shows at 56 Henry, New York, NY (solo), Bortolami, New York, NY (solo) Reyes Projects, Detroit, MI; Marlborough Contemporary, New York, NY; and Almine Rech, New York, NY. Forthcoming exhibitions will be presented by Carl Kostyal, London; Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels; and Auroras, Sao Paulo. In 2017, Freeman published Comparisons with Flat Fix press, Brooklyn.

Ariel Jackson’s work explores and transforms gaming, navigational, and domestic systems and diagrams using video, sculpture, and performance. Using chalk, chalkboard, soil, fabric, and found objects, Jackson is interested in how educational signifiers can evoke a creolization of identity. The artist often uses installation to situate her practice into ideas of spatial matters as black matters. In Katherine McKittrick’s Demonic Grounds, McKittrick points to sociological cycle theory which argues that rather than events and stages in society and history progressing linearly, they are progressing in cycles, suggesting repetition and, as an outcome, remnants of the past. Throughout Jackson’s family’s history, land has been both a permanent reminder of systemic racism, as well as a temporal unfolding of possible transformations and outcomes based on individual and communal actions. Theories and familial conversations about what it means to be Creole, material remnants of a life of farming, and a struggle for higher education function as guides to sourcing materials and research.

Shellyne Rodriguez is a visual artist who works in multiple mediums to depict spaces and subjects engaged in strategies of survival against false hope, a device employed in the service of subjugation. These psychological and emotive inquiries puts the baroque in contact with a decoloniality rooted in the traditions of hip hop culture. Her work utilizes text, drawing, painting, found materials, and sculpture to emphasize her ideas. Shellyne graduated with a BFA in Visual & Critical Studies from the School of Visual Arts and an MFA in fine art from CUNY Hunter College. She has had her work and projects exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum, and the New Museum, all in New York, NY, and her work has recently been commissioned by the city of New York for a permanent public sculpture which will serve as a monument to the people of the Bronx.

Leah Weinberg-Moskowitz uses structural and perceptual elements of photography to engage and confuse visceral registers of causality - photography understood as an experience of time made visible - made into a picture, materialized in sculpture, or activated by way of performance.