True Mirror at the 2008 Whitney Biennial

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In conjunction with the 2008 Whitney Biennial, creative workshop and independent press Dexter Sinister will use the Commander's Room at the 7th Regiment Armory as an outpost to release a myriad of often playful and absurd texts through various channels of distribution. Meant as a spoof of the official communiqués of the Whitney Biennial, the project is ironically entitled "True Mirror." A revolving group of artists, designers, and musicians were invited to participate, such as Jason Fulford, Walead Beshty, Rob Giampietro and Alex Waterman. One of the releases, Sans Comic by Cory Arcangel, presents the Biennial's press release entirely in the widely mocked font Comic Sans. A simple gesture, the act illuminates how easy it is to disrupt institutional authority with a detail as basic as a typeface. "True Mirror" will terminate its dispatches this week on March 23rd.

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That's Bananas!

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Montreal-based artist Cesar Saez has an interesting labor of love. He wants to launch a Geostationary Banana Over Texas. For three years, he's been researching the technology to do so and he's now ready to begin fabrication. All that stands between him and his dream is a fundraising goal of $1.5 million. Once launched, Texans will look up to see a banana that appears to be one-tenth the size of the moon. The 1000-foot, fruit-like assemblage will be composed of bamboo and balsa wood and will run on hot air, much like a blimp. Saez says he wants to think about space as a "canvas for expression" and to explore "territory as sovereign within the social context of today's global society." The territory of which he speaks is not simply Texas air space, it's the space for technological research into aeronautics currently "monopolized by wealthy governments and large corporations." In some ways, the artist likens himself to a cowboy, defiantly sending a rather phallic foreign object (bananas don't grow in Texas) into an orbital pattern above a state marked by a legacy of corporate pollution. Though Saez admits that the banana, itself, is simply and "oddity with a sense of humor," he's hoping that this intentionally "unthreatening intervention" can appear like a message in the sky to inspire community growth. In many ways, Saez's banana is just an arbitrary symbol for something much bigger than itself. His development process is one that has involved far-ranging and ground-breaking collaboration between artists, researchers, and locals. He hopes that the next step, after this major DIY feat is accomplished, will be regional community members stepping up to create their own DIY communication networks, allowing them to evade profit structures in "monitoring forest fires, the weather ...

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Mapping Darfur

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Since Sudanese government soldiers and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed, commenced assaults on rebel forces and civilians of similar ethnic descent, in 2003, the crisis in Darfur has been at the forefront of international discussion and the subject of extensive political, humanitarian, and journalistic work. "Museum Mapping Initiative," a unique collaboration between Google and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, makes the history and details of the crisis available to a virtual community, allowing Google Earth users to navigate a map of the region amended with data provided by the U.S. State department, including locations of damaged and destroyed villages, internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee camps in Darfur and Chad, respectively, and zones accessible and inaccessible to humanitarian relief workers. Users navigating the terrain can read testimonies of civilians affected by the conflict, recorded by Amnesty researchers, and view photographs depicting aspects of regional life. Taking advantage of Google Earth's architecture, "Museum Mapping Initiative" also allows users to insert their own placemarks on locations in Darfur and Chad towards constructing specific tours, presentations and readings of the crisis. Through this intersection of interactive technology and progressive historiography, the events and stories surrounding this modern-day atrocity can finally be brought to greater light. - Tyler Coburn

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Tuning-In Intervention

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"As we walk the streets our bodies pierce magnetic fields." So begins artist Ricardo Miranda Zuniga's statement regarding his installation, "On Transmitting Ideology" at Philadelphia alternative art space, Vox Populi. This poetic preface underscores the ubiquity of radio waves, in our world, and the potential power of transmission. For while many of the powerful states and dictators Zuniga's work critiques use the airwaves as a means of broadcasting political dogma, the artist takes the space back in his own transmissions. For the show at Vox Populi, he will present an installation of wooden guns in which are embedded radios "broadcasting declarations on freedom and transformation in our society." The AK-47s and Uzis crafted by Zuniga take aim at the mass media and their role in disseminating ideology. This installation is accompanied by a screening of two new video works "that question the outcome of popular notions of freedom, liberty, and the power of capital." Both pieces touch on the political and personal struggles associated with immigration. Carreta Nagua, Siglo 21 (2007) is an animated narrative that also addresses aging and cultural and familial loss through the perspective of two aging TV superheroes, voiced by the artist's parents, and El Rito Apasionado (2007) "takes place in a hotel room where three Guevarrian Neo-Marxist Latino Terror Revolutionaries from Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico gather to prepare an act against the history of U.S. intervention." Together, these projects exemplify Zuniga's forte for not only performing powerful interventions, but also interrogating the rhetoric of interventionist art and actions. "On Transmitting Ideology" will be open March 7-30. - Marisa Olson

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We Interrupt Your Program at Mills College

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Organized by independent curator Marcia Tanner for the Art Museum at Mills College, "We Interrupt Your Program" presents fourteen artists whose video and new media works seek to disrupt systems of power. The exhibition, which opened January 16, 2008, follows shortly after what some have called "the year of the woman" for its multiple, rigorous historical exhibitions on feminist art, such as "Global Feminisms" at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. While "We Interrupt Your Program" shows work by women only, it presents feminism at its most expansive and best: as a critical lens through which to connect to other social categories, such as nationality, class and religion. And, where iconic "year of the woman" shows focused on historical work, "We Interrupt Your Program" is a look at some of the leading lights in a new generation of feminist artists. The idea of home is a theme amongst several of the works. For instance, in Body Double (2006) San-Francisco-based artist Stephanie Syjuco presents a video triptych that features three Vietnam-era films, Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Hamburger Hill, whose soundtracks have been silenced and images of combat footage razed, leaving only a fragmented landscape and a heavily mediated picture of home and loss. Speaking to the increasing use of documents in art (see "Archive Fever" at the International Center of Photography), the Recovery Channels (1998-2005) by Nina Katchadourian invites viewers to watch fourteen-plus hours of footage from discarded video-tapes the artist retrieved from the streets of New York between 1998 and 2005. The abandoned tapes contain imagery from TV shows, soap operas and news broadcasts, much of which would be unforgettable to people tapped into mass media culture during those years. Recovered but not forgotten, the tapes ...

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