(EX) Communicate

Milano, Jan 21 – 27, 2010

On Thursday, January 21 in Milan, by the old city walls of Porta Venezia (Via Lambro, at the corner of Via Melzo), an innovative new gallery space, JEROME ZODO CONTEMPORARY, will be opening its doors.

The inaugural event, (EX)COMMUNICATE, is an exhibition that will run until February 27, 2010, presenting a group of international artists that includes Simmons & Burke, Terry Chatkupt, Zackary Drucker, Ben Grasso, Tigran Khachatryan, Simon Senn, Andrew Schoultz, Federico Solmi, and Bertold Stallmach. The vernissage will feature a performance by Zackary Drucker.

For this project, curator Jerome Zodo selected artists who share the gallery’s philosophy of giving a key role back to the viewer; it offers a preview of future programming at Jerome Zodo Contemporary, which in the months ahead will be featuring, in turn, each of the artists who are taking part in this initiative.
As Jerome Zodo states, “The importance of the art audience is at risk of being obscured, due to the media’s aggressive, arrogant attitude towards art. It has become quite clear that what the mass media tend to communicate is, above all, their own image, at the expense of content, and any value that comes into contact with them is swallowed up and dumbed down through the mechanism of self-referentiality”.
Each of these artists points viewers down a path of discovery that will help them build their own perception of reality, fashion their own ideas about its content. Though they often employ the mechanisms commonly found in everyday mass communication, the invited artists do not place the latter at the center of the project, but rather take advantage of its dynamics, shifting attention directly beyond the cognitive process.

One of the works that best introduces the spirit of the show is L’Hôtel des Sapins by Simon Senn, a video in which three young men and three young women, all naked, carrying video cameras, and with numbers drawn on their bodies, move through a neutral space. The viewer interacts with the scene by using a remote control: the buttons correspond to the numbers painted on the figures, and by changing channel, one can switch between their points of view.
Also very interesting is Terry Chatkupt’s video Untitled (Main Street), a sequence of images, without commentary, of closed, bankrupt, abandoned shops.
The Inability to Be Looked at and the Horror of Nothing to See is the title of a series of photographs by Zackary Drucker, documenting a performance piece in which the artist, blindfolded, scantily clad and stretched out on a massage table, asks the audience to pluck hair from her body with tweezers.
An ironic, economical approach to the themes of the exhibition can be found in the work of Ben Grasso. The originality of his paintings springs from a short-circuit in the current of perception. His catastrophic images of explosions, fires, and floods seem to come straight off the TV screen or the covers of international magazines, but looking closely, one sees that the blasts are completely imaginary and impossible, often accompanied by cartoon-like elements.
Tigran Khachartyan’s work will be represented by the video Nachalo (The Beginning). This artist reinterprets cinematic classics, reconstructing them with a collage of historic footage, fragments of other films, and above all, scenes shot in an “indecently” amateur style. The work cited in this video is, of course, Nachalo by Artavazd Peleshyan, a short film dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution.
The very young Swiss artist Bertold Stallmach will be presenting a site-specific project whose protagonists are a colony of ants. A plate hangs in the air, at the center of it their microcosm, a small glass globe housing the queen. Four channels connect the central globe with four hollow forms, also made of transparent glass, shaped like large ants in the classic pose of meditation. The glass structure is filled with a special transparent gel that lets the insects live as if they were in the ground, so that visitors can enjoy the spectacle of collective intelligence.
There will also be two large pieces by Andrew Schoultz, one on paper and one on a panel, that reflect his attitude towards the precarious nature of artistic communication. Schoultz is influenced by the world of street art: the graffiti, murals, and stickers that are an everyday sight on the walls of the city. His themes are daily life, political diatribes, and social organization, but his work also investigates man and nature, through the obsessive use of imagery from medieval painting.
The work of Californian artists Simmons & Burke triggers an immediate responsiveness in the visitor and an incontrollable urge to participate. At first glance, they look like enormous pop altarpieces where a vast number of images have been patiently and painstakingly collected, summing up every aspect of reality. A sort of Flemish painting made with cutting-edge digital techniques, it is rounded out by audio, a series of sounds transmitted in random sequence.
A speech a part deserve the work of Federico Solmi, an Italian born artist who currently lives and works in New York since 1999, and awarded last year by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation’s fellowship for Audio and Video category. His interest in the themes of the show isn’t independent from a foregoing friendship a reciprocal admire with Jerome Zodo. Federico is a cultured debunker, an artist that say his opinion on the reality and the false myths trough a wild-satiric language..

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with texts by Irina Zucca Alessandrelli and Geraldine Zodo.

Terry Chatkupt (1977, Excelsior Springs, MO, USA) His artworks – mainly photographs, videos and installations – have been presented in several museums and artistic displays in the USA, like the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MOMA) in 2009; the Seattle Art Museum and the PDX Film Festival in 2008; as well as Art Basel Miami Beach Video Lunge in 2007; the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse and the Harris Lieberman, both in the state of New York; the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the Sweeney Art Gallery of the University of California; and the New Chinatown Barbershop of Los Angeles, the city where he lives and works. Graduated at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), in 2003 he attended the residential programme of the Skowhegan School of Paintings and Sculptures in the state of Maine (USA).

Tigran Khachatryan (1980, Yerevan, Armenia) introduced himself on the international artistic panorama by participating in the prestigious generational exhibition “Younger Than Jesus” – organized in 2009 by the New Museum of New York – with the audio-visual artwork Nachalo. In the same year he shows in “Fair Politics” at Regina Gallery, Moscow, his work Man with a video camera.
After getting his graduation degree at the Art Academy of Yerevan, Armenia, in 2004, and after attending the “Saison est-ouest” programme at the Residence of Visual Arts of Die, France, in 2007, he took part to several important world-known artistic displays, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon, France, the ARTSPACE of Sydney, Australia, in 2007, and the Biennale di Venezia in 2001.

Simon Senn (1986, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Svizzera) mainly active on the European artistic scene, won last year the prize of the Kiefer Hablitzel Foundation of Berne, Switzerland. Simon Senn is attending the course of performance at the University of Art and Design of Geneva (HEAD) and, together with his group Californium 248, he resides at the Théâtre de l’Usine of Geneva. In January 2010 in (ex) communicate at Jerome Zodo Contemporary, he shows for the first time in Italy his work L’hôtel des sapins, now acquired by Kunsthaus Zürich. In April 2010 he has opened his first personal exhibition entitled Participatory Panopticon at the CACT (Centre for Contemporary art of Ticino) of Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Federico Solmi was born in Bologna in 1973 and moved in 1999 to New York, where he is currently based. His works have been exhibited at many prestigious international museums: “The Dissolve” – 8th Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico (USA), curated by Sarah Lewis and Daniel Belasco; the Centre Pompidou in Paris, at the cross-disciplinary art and video festival “Rencontres Internationales” (November 28 – December 7, 2008 – 2009); the 26th Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival in Germany (November 10 -15, 2009); Reina Sofía National Museum in Madrid; the Drawing Center in New York; the National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow at IMPAKT HIGHLIGHTS: YOUR SPACE (December 17, 2008); Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (June 30 – July 5, 2008); Palazzo delle Arti in Naples; the 16th Quadriennale at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome (June 19 – September 14, 2008); and Experimenta at Collezione Farnesina (July 2008).

Ben Grasso was born in 1979. After earning a BFA in Painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art, in his home town, Grasso continued his studies in this feld with an MFA from Hunter College in New York, the city where he now lives and works. In 2010, he received a painting fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). He is best known on the US art scene, with recent solo exhibitions such as ”TBD” and “Clearing”, both at Thierry Goldberg Projects in New York, and “Close to Home” at Kinkead Contemporary in Los Angeles. His group exhibitions include ”Recess” at Crossing Art, New York; “Queens International” at the Queens Museum of Art, New York; and “The Grand”, at the Amelie A. Wallace Center, SUNY College, Old Westbury, NY.

Andrew Schoultz (b. 1975, WI) received his BFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco (CA). He has had solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Philadelphia, Rotterdam, Boston, London, Portland, Detroit and Milan. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Andy Warhol Museum (PA), Torrance Art Museum (CA), Havana Biennial (Cuba), Hyde Park Arts Center (IL), Laguna Art Museum (CA), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), among others. His work can be seen in the public collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), Frederick R. Weisman Foundation (CA) and the Progressive Art Collection (OH), in addition to his publicly funded murals in Portland (ME), Jogjakarta (Indonesia) and San Francisco (CA). Schoultz lives and works in San Francisco (CA).

Bertold Stallmach (1984, Quithing, Lesotho) is primarily based in Switzerland. He graduated from the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in 2008, after studying for one term at Future University in Hakodate, Japan in 2007, and has received awards such as the Migros Culture Percentage grant in 2008 for audiovisual post-production, an IKEA Foundation grant, and a Swiss Study Foundation scholarship. In 2010, he received project grants from the Canton of Zurich and the Ernst-Goehner Foundation. He has taken part in many artistic events in Switzerland: at the Swiss Art Awards in Basel (2009 and 2010); at the Dienstgebäude and Güterbahhof in Zurich (2008 – 2009); at the Go West – Festival der Künste, in Zurich (2006) and at Kunsthalle Zurich with the group show Bekanntmachungen – der Strich (2005). His first solo show was in 2010 at Susanna Kulli Galerie in Zurich; his group shows in 2010 included Catch of the year 2, Dienstgebäude (Zurich) and Kantonale Werkshau, F + F Schule fur Kunst (Zurich).

Simmons & Burke is the paired name of an original, incisive collaboration forged between artist Case Simmons and musicologist Andrew Burke, a techno-intellectual synchronization found in carving the computational interface of the web into elaborate audiovisual structures that often become chaotic media proliferations. Acoustic dissonances modulate incessant cut-andpastes into a cacophonic process-based assemblage, a junkpile of pop trapeze artists, orchestrated around artificial, enveloping landscapes that are the setting for an attempt to define and circumscribe the bodily experience of media.
These two Californian artists create digital “visual sounds”, using an apparent theatre of the symbolic to stage a decadent, telematic spirituality; the result is an epiphanic spectacle of connections between media: a labyrinth, a shipwreck, a dance of spectres. The self-generating technological stream explored by Simmons & Burke has appeared in artistic settings around the world: at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, 2009; the House of Campari in Los Angeles, 2009; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, 2009; Dvorak Sec Contemporary in Prague, 2008; and Wonderland Art Space in Copenhagen, 2008. Presented here for the first time on the Italian art scene, both members of the duo completed their studies in 2007; Case Simmons with a BFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute, and Andrew Burke with an MM from University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music.

Zackary Drucker earned an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2007 and a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2005. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in numerous museums, galleries, and film festivals including the 54th Venice Biennale–Swiss Off-Site Pavilion; Curtat Tunnel, Lausanne, Switzerland; L.U.C.C.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, Lucca, IT; Les Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; MOMA PS1; Deitch Projects; Leo Koenig Inc. Projekte; Invisible Exports in New York; and Jerome Zodo, Milan. In Los Angeles, her performances, films and videos have been seen at the Hammer Museum, REDCAT, L.A.C.E., Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Steve Turner Contemporary, and Human Resources. She lives and works in Los Angeles and is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.