The Nothing That Is
curated by Yuon Daton and Christine Rasmussen
Brand Library & Art Center
November 16, 2019-January 17, 2020
Humans are innately creative. With just our bare hands we have the ability to make something out of nothing. It is a strange irony that so many of our newest innovations feel devoid of the human touch. They have become soulless in the pursuit of purported efficiency and flawless design.
“The Nothing That Is” features 16 artists whose hand-crafted artwork responds to the growing isolation humans feel as they try to connect through technology. Through their work the artists ask us to behold the nothing that is.
Artists included: Holly Boruck, Arminée Chahbazian, Chelsea Dean, Yaron Dotan, Dawn Marie Forsyth, Jenn Fuentes, Kaloust Guedel, Michael Henry, Hayden + Anthony Lepore, Larry Kagan, Andrew Paine, Christine Rasmussen, Colin Roberts, Linda Vallejo, Joséphine Wister Faure, Monica Wyatt
“The Nothing That Is” at Brand Library and Art Center, Art and Cake LA, by Kristine Schomaker, November 27, 2019
The Nothing That Is, Artillery Magazine, by Genie Davis, Los Angeles, CA, November 20, 2019
The hum of automation. The constant barrage of information – fact, fiction or otherwise. The insistent longing to be seen. Hidden in plain sight. Drowning out the ability to pinpoint ourselves. Humans have always endeavored to master the universe, but now we squint just to see ourselves. Who could have predicted the marginalization of the human touch?
As artists we bear witness to this quandary with a hand-crafted response. Through shadows, empty landscapes, hollow vessels, depictions of invisible people, and humans distorted by technology, an understanding begins to form. Delacroix said, “I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will.” We will give you a human being made of emptiness provided you let us surround it as we will.
In this show the artists ask the audience to listen for themselves. They suggest, as Wallace Stevens did in his poem The Snow Man, that we behold the “nothing that is not there, and the nothing that is.”
• How does your work obscure and/or envelop its subject?
The photographic image is enveloped and obscured by the color red. The color red is imbued with symbol and meaning. Red pigment made from ochre was one of the first colors used in prehistoric art. The Ancient Egyptians and Mayans colored their faces red in ceremonies; Roman generals had their bodies colored red to celebrate victories. It was also an important color in China, where it was used to color early pottery and later the gates and walls of palaces. In the Renaissance, the brilliant red costumes for the nobility and wealthy were dyed with kermes and cochineal. The 19th century brought the introduction of the first synthetic red dyes, which replaced the traditional dyes. Red also became the color of revolution; Soviet Russia adopted a red flag following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, later followed by China, Vietnam, and other communist countries. Since red is the color of blood, it has historically been associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. In modern times in Europe and the United States the color red is also the color most commonly associated with heat, activity, passion, sexuality, anger, love and joy. In China, India and many other Asian countries it is the color of symbolizing happiness and good fortune. Finally, in Native Indigenous culture the color red signifies the north and symbolizes war, wounds, blood and victory, the sunset, thunder, and earth.
San Juan Capistrano I & II are “enveloped” in red so that the color is used as a symbol of its history.
• Does your method of inquiry – materials/process/concept – respond to the pace of life in today’s society?
I have been collecting antique postcards of Mexico and the California Missions for a few months. The postcard is a very old method of documenting a location. Now I have taken this printed documentation, scanned and manipulated creating the image through several processes to create an original image. It is essentially a photographic image rendered from a historic image manipulated with a modern machine. As this these images are several steps from the original, our understanding and response to an image is often several steps away from reality.
• How does your work challenge your audience to slow down, see the world differently, and/or be in the moment?
This piece asks the viewer to stop and consider the color red historically, symbolically, and culturally. What does it mean to envelope the image of Mission San Juan Capistrano in red? What does this color mean? What does this color signify in this situation?