You are on page 1of 46

Adrian Hatfield Megan Heeres Justin Marshall Isaac Richard Janine Surma Ian Swanson

I dont believe in art. I believe in artists.

April 24, 2010 - May 22, 2010 Curated by Cedric Tai

Special Thanks to: Aaron Timlin Y-arts in the downtown YMCA The exhibition committee Nikki Desautelle Mary Fortuna Sarah Turner and of course The Artists

Mary Fortuna, contributing writer

I was hesitant when I was asked to write about this show. Six very different artists were to create site-specic works, with each artist to collaborate with the artist/curator. I was provided with extensive documentation. The curators stated intention was to leave each artist to install their individual works, and for their collaborations with him to link the transitions from one space to the next. The whole contraption was hung on a quote from Marcel Duchamp, I dont believe in art. I believe in artists. It all sounded a little over-determined. Janine Surmas wall of unframed photographs in the rst gallery is entitled Secret Cave. These straightforward images of food and pets and domestic objects are a little twisted a white cat on a bare mattress showing her belly is weirdly seductive. A little dog wearing a blond wig dares us to mock him. The photos seem to speak to an urge to retreat to the nest and take a breather in familiar, if slightly shaky, surroundings. For his untitled installation, Justin Marshall has created a wallpaper pattern on lilac colored walls, using stencils of dogs and bears, crosses and other patterns in black and metallic gold paint. Hes placed a pair of upholstered chairs on an oriental rug, before a wall with a goldframed painting of a dog (Portrait of Tia) and a pair of candelabras. This orderly, formal placement points up the awkwardness of the other paintings in the room The Pizza Eaters and Dave Eating Chips. One of the wallpaper pattern motifs rhymes precisely with the handle of an adjacent re alarm. If this is an accident, its a happy one.

In the next gallery, Ian Swanson has played freely with his stock materials pigmented resins, layers and stripes of plastic and tape, curdled swathes of matte and milky paint. In his Reecting Pools, he works the surface of the panels, then builds a sort of dam to contain a puddle of colored resin. Narcissus could while away an afternoon here. Ian is especially sensitive to the relation of objects to architectural elements. His A Storm Broke as I Approached makes excellent use of a small niche in a corner. A sheet of resin drips out of its absent container at a 90 angle to climb the wall. With this simple trick of making water ow up hill, Swanson has created his own personal Mystery Spot. Adrian Hatelds Sublime Detritus depicts an epic underwater battle featuring Triceratops vs. T. Rex, an echo-locating bat, a ferocious sh equipped with its own light source, and other creatures, all played out in the murky blue depths. In a nearby corner, Hateld presents Methods of Contemplation and Deduction. A glass and oak cabinet holds a plaster cast of a human skull, a fossilized fern, a tiny hummingbird skull, and a giant sharks tooth. A trio of decorative corbels mounted on the wall above the cabinet holds a toy Godzilla, a gure of Freddie Mercury, and a Kid Robot toy, Mr. Earth. The precise placement of these selected objects implies hidden relationships between them, some mysterious logic that unites them all in the artists goofy cosmology.

Megan Heeres makes excellent use of an awkward space. She has repurposed lawn inatables to create breathing walls for her installation entitled Searching the Start. A pair of gigantic fabric lungs are attached to the walls in a wide stairwell, squeezed behind metal handrails. The jerry rigged switches for the motors that inate the walls are themselves a beautiful set of objects on a shelf, tied to the lungs with their bunched electrical/ umbilical cords. The lungs expand and contract, lights switch on and off, motors hum, colors glow and fade. Its a creepy but oddly comforting presence. The nal space features Isaac Richards video project entitled G.R.I.D or Glamour Reied Identity Dimension. Richard has constructed a narrative that follows A, a citizen of nightlife hungry for freedom, through a series of adventures where she experiments with aspects of an identity in ux. He plays freely with costumes, props, environments and characters. The segment I found most beautiful has A inhabiting an oversized white garment attached to the wall, which becomes a screen for projected images a simple and direct metaphor for the identities projected on us by others. The video is eshed out by photographs and objects placed around the room. So what are we left with? At the start I wondered if this strange collaboration would ever coalesce. With the exception of a few elements that might have been pushed further, I came away satised. I am especially impressed with the thought that went into the installation of individual works and the integration of the separate elements. The attention to detail and understanding of the inherent problems turned out to be the glue that unites the whole endeavor. Cedric Tais choices, from the artists he selected and his trust in their abilities, to his decisions as to placement and the collaborations with each of the individuals, kept the whole thing from running off the rails. I look forward to seeing what else this young upstart has in his bag of tricks. Were lucky to have him in Detroit. Mary Fortuna April 28, 2010


Adrian Hat eld

My work examines the visual language science uses to make huge amounts of information digestible. In addition, I am exploring how the reductive nature of this visual language creates the illusion of a more complete understanding of the subjects. This aspect of science mirrors not only religion, but also the role held by nineteenth-century Romantic landscape painters. Scientists, religious philosophers and the Romantic painters have all chosen to explore amazingly vast subject matter, whether attempting to map the human genome, explain the afterlife or depict Yosemite on a canvas. All three take Sublime subjects and reduce them to a more manageable scale. Although the stated intent of artists and scientists may be to understand or represent their subjects thoroughly, the limits of human language, knowledge and cognition make such tasks impossible. Further, although humans are fascinated by the vast and mysterious, we also are terried by it. Creating an illusion of control and understanding of overwhelming subjects provides comfort. This is the case in science, religion and art. My intent is for my artwork to embrace the ingenuity, strength and inherent beauty of science, religion and their visual languages, while simultaneously exposing and celebrating their limitations.

Megan Heeres
I am interested in exposing the interior, the untouched, the remote and unexplored. Using mundane materials like paper, plastic, thread, and plaster, I create objects, environments, books and drawings that explore the ways in which the interior intersects and interacts with the viewers physical space and the existing architecture.






Justin Marshall
I intended to create a dirty masterpiece, with all the decadence and failure that has been suggested to me to be so fucking important. I wish to display the most important pieces of myself in a traditional manner, however un-traditional, or mundane they may be. Friends are important. Animals we call pets are important. The foods we choose to eat are important. My dog is beautiful.







Sarah Turner, contributing writer

I dont believe in art. I believe in artists. Borrowing a statement attributed to Marcel Duchamp, curator Cedric Tai puts himself in good company and declares the mission of this exhibition: artists rst. Even though I know this title statement is taken out of context, from another time and another place - and probably said to incite, not to advocate - I cant help turning it over in my head and wondering which I believe in. Then, I remember: I dont believe in quotes. But, when I meet Cedric Tai on a Sunday night in the bright white space that is Whitdel Arts, I believe in him. And he believes in artists. Giving them carte blanche to install their work on their own terms and in their own ways, Cedric holds back as a curator. In this, he allows another role that he values to come forward that of facilitator and advocate, In Detroit it seems that the more people you know, not the more money you have, the more [power] you have. Detroit is like a poor paying job with a lot of perks. In the gallery, each artist takes a discreet and separate space and for the most part, the exhibition sticks to conventions in presentation- sculptures are on the oor, in vitrines and on pedestals. Paintings are on the walls and video is projected with ample room to stand back and view it (one large and notable exception to these conventions is the work of Megan Heeres: colorful breathing bellows that force the transition from one space to another by expanding out of the walls and pressing against the interior structure of the building itself). But between the individual artist displays, there are thresholds, windows, corners and edges. And in these areas, Tai steps back in. Not as a curator, but as a connector and collaborator inviting the artists to make pieces with him that bridge the distinct bodies of work. As I walk from the grid of Janine Surmas photographs into Justin Marshalls living room, I am made aware of the dusty new concrete oor and small steps. Scattered animal stickers cover the threshold and lead from Surmas cats and dogs to Marshalls purple room of stylized motifs.


Scuff marks from the many feet at the opening the night before have dulled the bright colors of the vinyl and the stickers are fading into the oor. Turning the corner, Ian Swansons paintings seem to be a solid version of pooling and evaporating industrial liquid. Bounced against Adrian Hatelds deep blue painted myth-scape, the room is delicately anchored by a set of bicycle handlebars wrapped in blue tape. Perhaps seizing the opportunity of the blue, the tape and of painting, Tai and Swanson have created Interference which presents as a painting, but is a graphic attening of the recessed window between two rooms. This method continues: free-spirited interventions, each a collaboration with the artists, move me from room to room. Small cast gemstones stick to the wall and serve as concentrated punctuation points between Heeres large air-lled sculptures and Isaac Richards grainy self-portraits. Next, delicate wood tines build a geometric structure that literally bridges space, reaching from the walls of Richards photographs to the pedestal supporting his videos projector making a physical connection between the still and the moving images. These collaborative pieces of the exhibition are quick and straight-forward, serving simultaneously as a transition and a pause as I move through the rooms. And these pieces are the material manifestation of Tais ambitions beyond this project to link artists, develop shared opportunities and insist through as many ways as possible that everything is connected. So, for at least one cool Sunday night in southwest Detroit, I dont have to choose between believing in art or believing in artists I can believe in the spaces between.


Isaac Richard
As the importance of the body decays and personality trumps the ability for physicality to represent what it means to be human, I am most interested in the decadence inherent in this transformation. My attraction is to spectacle, its glorication of the temporal and non-static, as well as its incessant excessive behavior. I see my involvement as personal, involved and not from a position of criticism but rather one of motivation and possibility. My queer positioning, which prompts me to see my physical self as alien in relation to a larger interiority, may place me within the paradox of camp, at once exploring while exploding the avenue of superstar, but I dont seek to identify ironically. Glamour can be a space for waste but it can also be a place for vexing and I totally believe in magic: its the place where psychic space actually transpires into lived reality.


Accessing virulent faggotry through a system of character building, or posing, necessitates a reinvestigation of glamour which I dene as a sort of magic inherent in excess and illusion that employs style as self-control within its politics. Being too much acts as an anti-assimilationist tool at a time when even the mainstream gay-rights activist stance is concerned with a normalizing discourse grounded in accessing middle-class, white privilege. In this way, to live as hyperbole is to survive the denial of personhood championed by a public seeking tangible bodies. My solution, then, is to cast a glamour: a form of witchcraft used to throw a desired self-perception into the public, thereby birthing it into actuality. Within the context of object making, ever alchemical and self-obsessed, this is much less an allegory than it is an index for achieving agency through virtual reality, or reality, virtually. The magic of virtual living is that the difference between fact and ction becomes nonexistent and the entire concept of sincerity falls at its feet. This, in turn, renders any sincere investment in such a frivolous lifestyle in a new light. To fake it and mean it is what Im talking about. Its not about irony, or satire, its about trying to avoid static formulations of the self at any costs. Style, in the broadest sense of all, is consciousness. -Quentin Crisp What then does it mean to occupy a body that is monstrous by selfiniction? To take that violence upon oneself and to thrive on ones Otherness in order to fully express personal psychic terrain? What also of a post-human existence must we embrace through the cyborg to suture our relationship with nature at a stage where widely accepted ideas of biological determinism have aided in marginalizing a host of human identities? This doesnt mean merging with machines, as science ction hybrids have arrived and the yearning for these bodies is often only employed as fetish. It means, instead, that we must accept that the nature/culture dualism weve acknowledged as truth is the wrong lter to be looking through. In this way, living virtually isnt so virtual at all, its just much more deliberate.






Janine Surma
Its hard for me to think of myself as an artist, I think of myself more as a person consumed by obsessive thoughts and ideas. My mind seems to move more rapidly then my body can keep up with. Im always working on new projects, new ideas, often times not nishing anything. In a lot of ways I think thats what drew me to photography. Its instant, just a click of a button, you can take as many pictures as you want, you can always edit them later, you can either take hours to set up one shot, or take a picture in a second. I like having my camera laying around my house so I can capture my every day activities. My house has become very important to me, and comfort and the idea of a nest has become something I have given a lot of thought to. In my adult life I have lived in many places. This is the rst time I feel extremely comfortable, and at ease in my environment. Anxiety and unease is what made me leave Chicago, the city I went to school in. Living in huge lofts with no rooms made me feel vulnerable and unsafe. I feel like I nally have the perfect living situation. I spend most of my time in my house, building my nest. These photos reect the comfort and safety I feel in my house. They can be seen as self portraits, still lifes, intimate details captured from my every day life. Unlike a lot of projects I work on, this one has been ongoing, and doesnt necessarily have a denate end. It will probably end when I eventually move.







Ian Swanson

Amidst the comfort of cynicism and the challenge of optimism, Im engaged in a hypothetical tug of war between what was, is, and can be. I am fascinated with the process of improvisation that occurs when particular rules are set or options are limited. Further, I am interested in examining the fundamental principles that govern patterns of daily life. Through experimentation with commonplace applications of materials, I aim to better understand different notions of personal and cultural identity while challenging conventional forms of representation. I prefer to leave my work hovering in the space between the slickness of mass production, and the intimacy of labor and chance. By applying a variety of both learned and intuitive or intentionally naive artistic methods, I attempt to understand and challenge ideas central to my generation and its undetermined historical signicance.







Image List (in the order they appear in the catalog): Megan Heeres & Cedric Tai Papered work #9 - thread, map, acrylic, spray paint, stickers (cover) Adrian Hateld Methods of Contemplation and Deduction - mixed media (pages 2, 4) Sublime Detritus - oil on panel (pages 5, 6) Adrian Hateld & Cedric Tai Diagram - wall painting (page 7) Untitled - Geode, Part of Godzilla Model (page 8) Megan Heeres & Cedric Tai Papered work #4 - Abaca paper, feathers, graphite, thread (page 9) Megan Heeres Searching the Start - inatables, fabric, motors (pages 10, 11, 12) Megan Heeres & Cedric Tai Papered work #11- Abaca paper, vinyl, acrylic, doily (page 14) Justin Marshall Portrait of Tia - Oil on board (page 15,19) The Pizza Eaters - Oil on canvas (page 16) Justin Marshall & Cedric Tai Untitled - Car window, spray paint, marker, vinyl and acrylic paint (page 20) Isaac Richard GRID (video still) - DVD-R with menus, custom casing (page 23)

Isaac Richard & Cedric Tai Untitled - Scented wax, wood and hot glue installation (pages 22, 25, 26) Isaac Richard Untitled - silicone, silica, crystals, amethyst, hair (page 27) Untitled - Inkjet prints (page 28) Janine Surma Secret Cave (series) - digital prints (pages 29 - 33) Justin Marshall, Janine Surma & Cedric Tai Animals - vinyl installation (page 34) Interference - etched Plexiglas, paint, duct tape, window treatment Ian Swanson Momentum - drop handlebars, tape (page 35) Reecting Pool 3 - acrylic, resin, mixed media (page 36) Reecting Pool 1 - acrylic, resin, mixed media Reecting Pool 2 - acrylic, resin, mixed media untitled - arrowhead Reecting Pool 3 - acrylic, resin, mixed media Momentum - drop handlebars, tape A Storm Broke as I Approached - resin, mixed media (page 37) Amber Alert - microphone cable, berglass, resin Three Caskets - acrylic, resin, photo transfer, LED, wood (page 38) A Storm Broke as I Approached - resin, mixed media (page 37, 39) Ian Swanson & Cedric Tai Interference - etched Plexiglas, paint, duct tape, window treatment (page 38, 40)