Archive of Emily Colucci

Emily has written 66 article(s) for AFC.

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Emily Colucci

Finding Light (And An Ode To The Ass) In The 2017 Whitney Houston Biennial

by Emily Colucci on March 23, 2017
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Seven small spray bottles labeled “Trigger Spray” and a packet of tissues emblazoned with “Your Feelings Are Valid” sit on a pedestal in a back corner of the Whitney Houston Biennial at Chashama. In a silly sendup of trigger warnings and safe spaces, the corresponding label for the work by Elana Langer lists humor along with the other materials. As it turns out, this isn’t just an ingredient in Langer’s piece. Humor is key to many of the all-women group show’s inclusions, which felt like a breath of fresh air with the doom and gloom of both the Whitney Biennial and the daily outrage of the Trump administration.

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Cataloguing Immigration’s Impact At Yinka Shonibare MBE’s “Prejudice At Home: A Parlour, a Library and a Room” at James Cohan Gallery

by Emily Colucci on March 17, 2017
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Six thousand patterned books line the walls of two rooms at the back of James Cohan Gallery. The spine of each book is emblazoned with names of first and second generation immigrants who have impacted British culture–Christian Bale, Tom Stoppard, Sir Ben Kingsley, Henry James, Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor, John Galliano and even, rumored “Becky with the good hair” herself, Rita Ora. Basically, it’s your dinner party dream list.

This towering reflection of immigrants’ historical influence comes courtesy of Yinka Shonibare MBE’s installation The British Library, currently on view as a part of his solo show Prejudice at Home: A Parlour, A Library and A Room. With Trump’s travel ban and increased crackdown on undocumented workers, the installation could not have arrived in New York at a more crucial moment. As countless articles attempt to make the case for immigrants and refugees by pointing out foreign-born founders of tech companies or American inventions created by immigrants, Shonibare’s installation achieves what these listicles can’t. It confronts viewers with a tangible, physical record of immigration’s creative impact on a country.

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Reimagining Dance For The Disabled Body In “Our Configurations” At Gibney Dance

by Emily Colucci on March 10, 2017
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Two audience members lick the pant leg and cane of performer Marissa Perel. While this happens she recalls awkward and downright insulting moments related to her disability. In one particularly horrifying story she tells the audience about a subway rider who called her a “bitch” after she refused to answer why she had a cane.

This, at once, funny and cringe-inducing moment was a part of Perel’s performance (do not) despair solo, one of the four performances featured in Our Configurations at Gibney Dance. In a short post-show discussion with the performers and NYU professor Hentyle Yapp, Perel defined her work as “an act of resistance against normativity.” This could be said of all of the performers in the show, including Marc Brew, AXIS Dance Company and Kinetic Light. Despite attempts at increased inclusivity at most arts organizations, abled-bodied performers are still largely the norm. And that’s a shame.

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VOLTA: Skip The Booths, Head To “Your Body Is A Battleground”

by Emily Colucci on March 3, 2017
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Ten years ago, it seemed most fairs were moving away from the anything-you-can-hang in a booth model to solo show booths. The pinnacle of that movement can be seen as VOLTA, which trumpeted a model in which all booths were solo shows.

Ten years later, how is that holding up? If UNTITLED and SPRING/BREAK are any indication, a preference for curation is on the rise. That’s seen even at shows that boast solo booth models such as VOLTA NY, which is for its second year, hosting a curated section.

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State Of The Union At SPRING/BREAK

by Emily Colucci on March 2, 2017
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With its emphasis on supporting artists and curators rather than commercial galleries, SPRING/BREAK Art Show is typically the highlight of the exhausting Armory week frenzy. While the verdict is still out on many of the other fairs, I can confidently report that this one does not disappoint.

Oddly enough, the reason for this, seems to be at the nexus of the fair’s identity—artist-focused, themed curation. The official theme is Black Mirror, which as the curators describe it, is about seeing oneself through a lens. But for this show, that usually translates into ruminations on demographics and politics or rather, politics based on demographics. It’s reflective of a time in which most of us in the arts community are far more terrified by anything the president has to say or do than by the technological dystopia presented in the Netflix blockbuster Black Mirror.

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You Want It Darker: Robyn O’Neil’s “The Good Herd” At Susan Inglett Gallery

by Emily Colucci on February 23, 2017
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Is any art that depicts a vivid sense of doom and gloom immediately relevant in 2017? Yes, if Robyn O’Neil’s current solo exhibition The Good Herd is any indication.

Previously, the Los Angeles-based artist’s dark surrealism felt like an anachronism. Her drawings in exhibitions like 2011’s Hell were, at once, a throwback to Odilon Redon’s trippy drawings and Edward Gorey’s Goth wit. This didn’t exactly click during the comparative calm of the Obama years. But now, with the daily hellish roller coaster of Trump’s administration, O’Neil’s anonymous figures and ominous symbolism have become strikingly timely, addressing the isolation many feel from their fellow Americans who voted an orange demagogue into office.

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Doomed Capitalism And Psychedelic Escape In David Spriggs and Matthijs Munnik’s “Permutations of Light” at Pittsburgh’s Wood Street Galleries

by Emily Colucci on February 17, 2017
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Before the election and the daily drama of Trump’s administration, I never fully understood just how important the current sociopolitical state is to the success of an exhibition. Of course, I was aware that timeliness could make or break a show. But, less than a month into Trump’s presidency, work that normally wouldn’t interest me in galleries I typically bypass have taken on new meaning and resonance.

The latest project to remind me of art’s dependence on its political context is David Spriggs and Matthijs Munnik’s dual exhibition Permutations of Light at Pittsburgh’s Wood Street Galleries. The show presents two large-scale immersive installations, Spriggs’s Gold and Munnik’s Citadels, on separate floors of the gallery. Concentrated on formal aspects of light, color and form, this type of experiential installation (which are often associated with Wood Street Galleries’ programming) have become so commonplace that they seem, at this point, like a crowd-pleasing cliché. But, when viewed in the context of our surreal times, Spriggs’s critique of capitalism and Munnik’s escapism feel surprisingly relevant.

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Remixing Intersectional Feminism At Pittsburgh’s Miller Gallery At Carnegie Mellon University

by Emily Colucci on February 15, 2017
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Even as feminism experiences a resurgence, there’s still a marked lack of representation of women of color and gender nonconforming individuals in both art and political activism. This disparity was recently debated on an international level with the criticism launched at the disproportionately white and cisgender Women’s March. A current show HACKING/MODDING/REMIXING As Feminist Protest at Pittsburgh’s Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon provides a direct rebuke of this continued inequality by emphasizing the power of intersectional feminism (feminism that embraces multiple, overlapping social identities beyond gender, including race, ethnicity, sexuality and class).

The exhibition leads by example by bringing together a group of twenty two artists who fracture and rearrange technology to create their own narratives within male-dominated fields like gaming, net developing and computing. Organized by artist and game developer Angela Washko, the show, in many ways, is an answer to the much-reported lack of women in tech industries (Washko cites a 2013 study in her introductory wall text, stating only 26% of the positions in computing jobs in the U.S. are held by women). But, with its smart and diverse curation, HACKING/MODDING/REMIXING As Feminist Protest goes further than exhibitions about feminism often go, taking on race and other identity issues. This makes the show not only politically relevant, but also necessary viewing during our current feminist revival.

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Avoiding Contemporary Politics At A.I.R. Gallery’s “Sinister Feminism”

by Emily Colucci on February 3, 2017
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One of the few positive side effects of Trump’s chaotic pussy-grabbing rise to power is the revitalization of feminism as an active political tool. Between the Women’s March and women-driven exhibitions like Nasty Women, women are now at the forefront of the resistance to Trump’s dangerous administration. The strength of this feminist revival explains why the failure of A.I.R. Gallery’s 12th biennial exhibition Sinister Feminism is such a disappointment.

Rather than a strong rebuke of a misogynist administration, Sinister Feminism, curated by Piper Marshall with Lola Kramer, shows a stubborn refusal to scrap wonky aesthetic concerns in a time of political emergency. Not only is the exhibition’s attempt to rethink feminist art’s essentialism hackneyed, it also felt disassociated from reality.

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What’s So Bad About An Echo Chamber? Jim Torok’s “The New Age of Uncertainty” At Pierogi

by Emily Colucci on February 1, 2017
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The term echo chamber has been thrown around since Trump’s election. When applied by conservatives, it’s used mostly as an attempt to dismiss the alleged close-minded perspective of “coastal elites,” a critique with few merits, even if sometimes true.

The limitations of this critique are especially visible in Jim Torok’s current solo exhibition The New Age of Uncertainty at Pierogi.The work articulates progressive panic and anxiety due to our current political atmosphere through a series of text-based paintings and portraits. In many ways, the exhibition simply reflects back the liberal perspectives those in the New York art community already see daily on social media. This approach has some obvious weaknesses, namely preventing the show from landing a far-reaching political critique. Instead, the exhibition succeeds more as a portrait of a specific ideology and frantic psychological state.

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