“Art galleries need artists, but artists don’t need galleries. The future relevance of commercial galleries, museums, and arts institutions depends on how they prioritize the artists and arts communities they serve in these precarious times.” -Meghana Karnik, Curator
“Archipelago of Me (L’archipel du moi)” - Ariane Loze
“TITLE TBD” is the latest exhibit on display at the Reinberger Gallery at the Cleveland Institute of Art, on view through October 4th. The multiform group exhibition attempts to navigate artists’ journey through the art world during an uncertain time for that ecosystem.
“A lot of the content of the show has to do with life after art school and dispelling the myth of the artist,” Gallery Director Nikki Woods told me. “We’ve all heard the story of the toiling genius in their studio who is just waiting for their gallery to pick up their paintings and go sell them or twenty thousand dollars apiece and how unrealistic that reality is, especially living in a city like Cleveland and there’s a lot of artists who live here.”
The show was curated by Meghana Karnik, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art Associate Curator and Case Western Reserve University graduate.
“I had a lot of trouble picking a name for this show because it is about resilience in the face of oppression, a process that often goes unseen," said Karnik. "Lo Smith of Adult Kindergarten told me to keep it the temporary, in-between title. Now, I feel like ‘TITLE TBD’ acknowledges that this moment is marked by waiting for stability.” With the art market and art institutions facing more and more challenges as to how to connect with audiences and to keep afloat during the pandemic, this exhibition finds itself in the midst of these uncertainties.
Artist and educator Jeff Kasper’s piece, “wrestling embrace (index) using materials: PU composite fabric, polyester, EPE foam, vinyl" shows text that reads (from a viewer’s perspective) as a wrestling mat with words on it. These are words and phrases associated with conflict and intimacy like: navigate by touching, show, don’t tell, avoid confrontation, explore being together, learn what makes you feel safe, etc. This piece begs us to explore what closeness is and where boundaries are challenged. Kasper’s current research explores how trauma-informed education and nonviolence impact the design process, arts collaborations and learning.
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo’s piece “Touch” is a video expressing the value we place on the sensation of touch and is a three-minute montage of her mantras about touch. Touch is obviously something many of us are craving as we restrict our human instincts to shake hands, hug, joke-wrestle, kiss, massage, stroke or rub. This poignant examination challenges us to question, again, what is to feel safe in a world where, in a way, the lack of touch is a sentiment of caring while our natural instincts beg for connection. If some of these pieces are about the striving for connection, resolving conflict and resilience in the face of oppression, how about how we internalize and connect with our own feelings and self-perceptions?
The piece “Archipelago of Me (L’archipel du moi)” is a video where artist Ariane Loze finds herself in a factory–like setting where versions of herself are housed and processed. She plays every character and there are many references to Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer Niccolò Machiavelli.
In the conclusion of the narrative, the character has to escape before being swallowed up by this system of self-awareness. This piece raises all sorts of interpersonal and existential questions about self-definition and how one relates to the outside world. It is as if we are inside the artist’s head and experiencing her most discreet intonations of self.
“I am very moved by Ariane Loze’s film, “Archipelago of Me.” In the story, a woman looking for a personality gets lost in a factory full of different versions of herself," Karnik said. "I think the movie is about our search for ourselves, our inner strength, and our ability to determine the future. It’s beautiful and surreal because Ariane plays all the characters.”
This exhibition is a continued step in redefining ourselves as individuals, as a collective culture and as voyagers on the planet Earth. “I hope the show is affirming to anyone trying to develop their artistry or transform culture in precarious times. Strong relationships and communities are the hidden keys to staying afloat," she said.
As a follow-up to this exhibition, on September 18th from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., there will be a Zoom Webinar, METHODS TBD: Show Me Love, featuring: La Tanya S. Autry, Gund Curatorial Fellow at moCa, Tizziana Baldenebro (she/her), Executive Director of SPACES and member of MOCAD Resistance, and Nora N. Khan, a writer, culture producer and a Director of Dark Study, an experimental program centered on art.
This webinar will be a knowledge-sharing conversation discussing why galleries, culture spaces and arts institutions are generative for artists and communities. The webinar link will be announced on the CIA site in the coming days.
“TITLE TBD” is on display by appointment and can also be viewed through the website as part of this hybrid approach to exhibiting art as arts organizations continue to reinvent what it means to interact with art work.
Check out the virtual catalogue for the exhibition here