. blog —

Rhizome 2009 Commissions: Announced!

By Rhizome


Image: Angelos Plessas, Still from 'ElectricityComesFromAnother Planet.com' Proposal

We are pleased to announce the international group of artists who will receive grants through the Rhizome Commissions Program, this year.

Their projects will culminate in a variety of forms, from performance, to sound, to interactive websites and installation, to works that manifest across multiple disciplines. Each one pushes forward the field of contemporary art engaged with technology. All works will be completed by Summer 2009 or earlier, with information available on Rhizome.

The next call for commissions will take place in January 2009. Commissioned artists receive a grant and are invited to present their work at Rhizome's affiliate, the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Marfa Webring, Jona Bechtolt, Claire Evans, Aaron "Flint" Jamison
In Marfa Webring, the artists Claire Evans, Jona Bechtolt and Aaron "Flint" Jamison will attempt to alter the Google search results for the town of Marfa, TX by creating a Webring and, then, (with the cooperation of the town's permanent residents) investigating the results of this action on the daily life of the town.

Case, Brody Condon
Brody Condon will re-create William Gibson's cyberpunk classic Neuromancer at a red barn theatre in rural Missouri with a local, former political activist in the role of the protagonist.

Untitled (Plate Tectonics), Andy Graydon
Andy Graydon explores sound as a building material. The project begins with field recordings taken at New York City arts institutions and manifests as phonograph records and a website where visitors are encouraged to add their own ambient recordings of installation and performance spaces.

Versionhood, Kristin Lucas
The artist Kristin Lucas recently changed her legal name from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas and, thus, in her words, created "the most current version of Kristin Sue Lucas." In Versionhood, Lucas will consult with a range of experts on the concept of versioning and record the results on a public blog and a "How-to Refresh Yourself" manual.
Read project blog

Real Time, Joe McKay
Joe McKay will create a website and cell phone application that provide the user with their real time, based on their exact distance from the prime meridian not from the time zone they are in.

Young Man Was No Longer A..., Naeem Mohaiemen
Naeem Mohaiemen will produce essays, installations and performances exploring the loss of moments of possibility in relation to failed 1970s utopian revolutionary movements.

I Sky You, Maria del Carmen Montoya and Kevin Patton ** 2009 Member Selection
In I Sky You, Maria del Carmen Montoya and Kevin Patton will collaborate to produce an installation wherein the darkness of a room is intermittently broken by erratic bursts of chemically synthesized light as well as dissonant tones which respond to the unique luminescence and duration of each individual flare.

ElectricityComesFromAnotherPlanet.com, Angelo Plessas
Angelo Plessas's ElectricityComesFromAnotherPlanet.com is an interactive, browser-based work that will visualize the project's title: electricity from comes another planet. A neon landscape inspired by the movie Tron.

T.S.A. Communication, Evan Roth ** 2009 Member Selection
In T.S.A. Communication, Evan Roth will design and produce laser cut sheets of stainless steel bearing messages such as "MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS" or "NOTHING TO SEE HERE." The sheets are designed for the air traveler to place inside of his or her carry-on bag and, thus, provide the T.S.A. x-ray machine operator with a political message. The year-long performance will be documented by the artist in various forms.

— Share this Article —


T.Whid June 25 2008 14:37Reply


Congrats everybody!


nick June 25 2008 16:23Reply

Congratulations to the winners.


I am somewhat disturbed by the lack of overtly political works in the list of winners. In this year, an election year, I would have expected and desired more projects that dealt with contemporary concerns. While there was unfortunately a dearth of political possibilities in the original list of projects (at least in the 100 or so I rated), there were at least two, one by Ricardo Dominguez on the plight of immigrants crossing the US-Mexico Border, and another by Ayah Bdeir, about the historical representation of Lebanon in the media, that were directly about present-day concerns and hotspots, and that had at least made it to the second round of public voting. I am glad that projects like "TSA Communication" and "Young Man Was No Longer A…" were awarded commissions, although the playfulness of the former belies a terribly serious situation that is not getting better.

In the end, what I was looking for in the commissions were works that would be designed to have more of an interventionist stance with regards to the present-day political climate in general, and the upcoming elections in particular. This could have been a chance to make a stand and give awards to people who were trying to change the political climate in the states for the better, at a time when public attention is most focused on political concerns. However, this does not seem to have been the aim of the jury, nor the Rhizome member voters.

Full Disclosure: I submitted a project that, while it reached the finals of the jury voting, was not awarded a commission.

t.whid June 26 2008 10:09Reply


Hi Nick,

At the Net Aesthetics panel the question of political net art was addressed. Our moderator, Ed Halter, asked, "why isn't there more?" The panel didn't really have a good answer. Later, it was sort of itching at me and I thought of a few pieces.

It's weird that I didn't think of this at the panel, because Rhizome's own 2008 commissions contain at least one political work:

AddArt – anti-corporate = political IMHO

Here's some other political net art:

Michael Mandiberg's Real Costs and Oil Standard


nick June 26 2008 15:09Reply

Hi T. Whid,

Thanks for the links, I've seen those projects in the past and are quite fond of them. There's also the historical antecedents, of course, of Electronic Disturbance Theater's Tactical Floodnet, the whole etoy saga, technologies to the people, txtmob, and many many more. I guess what I was hoping was that this year's commission cycle, coming as it does in a special year that comes only every four years, and coupled with their expansion of the call to works in the physical space, would look to complement political net.art with political physical space, installation, whatever-you-want-to-call it art. I don't think there is anything (technological or infrastructure-wise) that is preventing net.artists (or other artists for that matter) from engaging with political subjects. It seems to be more of a choice by the artists themselves. Take the Synthetic Times show (http://www.mediartchina.org/) now open in Beijing. Did those artists have to participate in a show that helps to legitimize an oppressive and ruthless regime? No. Could they have worked to present a counter-show, in a different venue in a different country with different works, that would have challenged the Chinese government and the valorization of art within a celebratory Olympic context? Yes. Where is the critique or outrage in the media art world regarding this show? I haven't seen, heard, or read it. I find it ruefully ironic that I have to look to the likes of Sarkozy in this context.

That turned into a rant on a different topic, but I think it's directly relevant to my original post…

joe mckay June 26 2008 17:05Reply

Is the "oppressive and ruthless regime" the Bush administration or Chinese government?
I like the idea of a counter-show, however, I don't see how denying the Chinese people the opportunity to see western media art solves any problems.
Would you boycott a show of Chinese artists in America because it needed state sponsorship to be seen? Or would you be interested in hearing the voices of those individual artists? More art seen by more people is better than silencing voices to make a political point. I see the Olympics as a Trojan horse that has allowed strong and interesting work into a Country that would not otherwise have opportunity to be exposed to it.

nick June 27 2008 13:16Reply

My point is that it is impossible (or, should be impossible) to see art outside of a political context, especially when it is shown in conjunction with large world events such as the Olympics. I find the argument that we are letting interesting work "into" China part of a long-standing discourse that reeks of colonial times—as if there is not already enough interesting work in China (see the Wen Pulin archive of Chinese avant-garde art for many examples (http://wason.library.cornell.edu/Wen/index.php), as much of that work can't be shown widely in China). These sorts of events, consequent of their scale, are always embedded within a capitalist framework of massive economic benefits (witness the recent Olafur Eliasson installation in NYC, where much of the talk is around how it's going to bring $55 million of economic activity to the city http://license.icopyright.net/user/viewContent.act?tag=3.5721%3Ficx_id=D91EU0TO0). I think it's important to continually question the way large conglomerations of artworks serve various mechanisms of the state and of global capitalism. So my problem is not only with how the show is constructed, but also with the particular works in the show. We only have to go to the presentation of Guernica at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition to see how Picasso was able to form a critique through the showing of his work, or look at the work of Santiago Sierra at the 2001 Venice Biennale where he made clear the hypocrisy of the visitors to the glitzy events. The artists in this show did not have to present the works that they did, and I would find the Trojan horse argument stronger if some of these projects would have been constructed as a critique of current policy.

But this thread was originally about the Rhizome commissions, and if we want to talk about the Synthetic Times show, let's open a new thread. I find it interesting that with the exception of T. Whid, there has been no other comment on the commission winners so far…

atomic elroy June 27 2008 17:54Reply


the link for:
Young Man Was No Longer A…
by Naeem Mohaiemen

goes to the rhizome membership page