with performance art
Artist Thierry Mandon Lives in Suspended Domestic Scenes Within the Ghost Rooms of Severed Buildings
Multidisciplinary artist Thierry Mandon casts himself as the subject of his satirical works as he reads in a bed hazardously suspended feet above the ground or sips a glass of wine at a halved dining table. The humorous and discomforting pieces, titled “Inside–Outside” and “Tableau vivant,” respectively, unveil a series of slow, solitary activities that, once outdoors, become a performative spectacle rather than a mundane moment. They speak to Mandon’s “search for harmony and for a stable unity between humans and their environment,” he says, as he literally slices and adheres domestic objects to a building’s facade.
“Each video portrays a character that, as a kind of archetype of the individual, is confronted by his human condition, his limits, his power, and helplessness,” Mandon writes to Colossal. “These themes are rendered by works where two elements, two worlds are exposed in a precarious balance.”
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Through Totemic Sculptures and Sound Art, Guadalupe Maravilla Explores the Therapeutic Power of Indigenous Ritual
In 1984, eight-year-old Guadalupe Maravilla left his family and joined a group of other children fleeing their homes in El Salvador. The Central American country was in the midst of a brutal civil war, a profoundly traumatic experience that’s left an indelible impact on the artist and one that guides his broad, multi-disciplinary practice to this day.
Now based in Brooklyn, Maravilla works across painting, sculpture, and sound-based performances all veiled with autobiography, whether informed by the Mayan architecture and stone totems that surrounded him as a child or his cancer diagnosis as a young adult. His pieces are predominately therapeutic and rooted in Indigenous ritual and mythology, recurring themes the team at Art21 explores in a new documentary.
“Guadalupe Maravilla & the Sound of Healing” follows the artist as he prepares for his solo exhibition on view through September 6 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Titled Planeta Abuelx, or Grandparent Planet—Maravilla expands on the often-used idea of Mother Nature to broaden its scope—the outdoor show is comprised of the artist’s trademark Disease Throwers, towering headdresses and shrines made of recycled aluminum. Allusions to Central American culture bolster the monumental works, with imprints of corn cobs, wooden toys, and other found objects planted throughout.
Covering the surrounding grass are chalky white markings, a signature component of the artist’s practice that delineate every space where he installs a piece. The abstract patterns evoke Tripa Chuca, one of Maravilla’s favorite childhood games that involves players drawing lines between corresponding numbers to create new intertwined motifs.
In Planeta Abuelx, Maravilla pairs his visual works with meditative performances that are based on the sound baths he used for pain management while undergoing chemotherapy. These healing therapies are designed to reduce anxiety and tension that often trigger stress-induced diseases. Using gongs and glass vessels, the palliative remedy has been the foundation of workshops the artist hosts for undocumented immigrants and others dealing with cancer that more deeply connect his totemic artworks to the viewers.
“Having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering,” he says. “Making these elaborate Disease Throwers is not just about telling a story from my past, but it’s also about how this healing ritual can continue in the future, long after I’m gone.”
If you’re in New York, Maravilla is hosting a sound bath to mark the close of Planeta Abuelx on September 4, and you can see more of his multivalent projects on Instagram. For a larger archive of documentaries exploring the lives and work of today’s most impactful artists, like this visit to Wangechi Mutu’s Nairobi studio, check out Art21’s site.
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Although Lucy Sparrow is adept at treating scrapes and bouts of indigestion, her medical specialty lies in helping folks suffering from heart disease, IBS, and various illnesses caused by fiber deficiencies. The U.K.-based artist set up shop with The Bourdon Street Chemist, a fully-stocked, woolen pharmacy that’ll open its doors on January 18, 2021, at London’s Lyndsey Ingram. Over-the-counter medications like plush bottles of Pepto Bismol, Tums, and aspirin line the shelves alongside creams and luxury fragrances.
Sparrow’s medical practice, though, expands beyond the drug store with an entire surgical unit for more severe injuries and illnesses in her studio. The retro, tile-lined room is outfitted with traditional operation equipment and a woolen cadaver with compact organs, a skeleton, and even a bleeding heart.
Similar to her previous undertakings that filled bodegas and supermarkets with household goods, Sparrow hand-stitched the entirety of The Bourdon Street Chemist with painstaking precision, not only ensuring a variety of pharmaceuticals are available but also inscribing each tablet and bottle with fabric-paint labels. The artist established this new medical unit after converting a decommissioned ambulance into a “National Felt Service” vehicle and performing a live-felt-surgery at Miami Art Week in 2018.
Anyone who’s binged on Sparrow’s felt potato chips or wooly Sour Patch Kids can pick up a similarly fibrous remedy from the white-coat wearing artist, who stations herself in the large-scale installation. “There is something so intensely intimate in sharing your personal—and often embarrassing—ailments with a stranger. But because that stranger is wearing a white coat you feel safe and trust them with secrets you wouldn’t tell your best friend,” the artist says.
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“Celui qui tombe,” or he who falls, is an illusory performance from self-described circus artist Yoann Bourgeois (previously) that opens with six dancers on a spinning platform. As the central stage turns, the performers run forward to fight the perpetual motion, even though their efforts keep them in the same spot. The sextet moves easily throughout the performance, grasping onto each other and stopping in neat lines as they respond to the stage’s revolutions. As Kottke notes, the centripetal force of the platform makes it possible for the dancers to contort their bodies into seemingly implausible positions, like the acute bends shown below, and remain standing.
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Despite lacking any distinct facial features, porcelain figures by Istanbul-based ceramicist Aylin Bilgiç have one unmistakable, defining characteristic: The lengthy braid resting on their oversized bodies evokes performance artist Marina Abramović, who is known for donning similarly styled locks. In another of Bilgiç’s pieces, two heads are back-to-back with their hair wound together, resembling Abramović’s 1978 collaboration with Uwe Laysiepen.
The monochromatic collection was designed specifically for Akış / Flux, an exhibition surveying Abramović’s work and offering 15 live performances. It is now on hold because of the global coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to purchase one of the figurative pieces or a square pin, they’ll only be available in Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s shop, although they aren’t online just yet. See more of Bilgiç’s work on Behance and Instagram.
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A recent two-day installation in Commerce, California afforded visitors an opportunity to evaluate and deposit their secret wishes. Dandelions, which was organized by the anonymous artist group The Art Department, took place in an administrative building at the Laguna Bell electrical substation from May 11-12, 2019. The cavernous space was transformed into a secret wish processing facility, where visitors submitted their wishes for questioning and analysis before receiving a dandelion to send their wish in a whoosh down a chute of either slam dunks or long shots. Writer Renée Reizman, who had a chance to visit the fleeting facility, explains the guided performance art in depth on Hyperallergic. Explore more of The Art Department’s previous projects on their website and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.