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Blogging Detour: Part 2

Arts

Blogging <i>Detour</i>: Part 2

Posted by Eleanor LeBeau and tagged with art, artist, exhibit, gallery; 12:00am, June 7th 2010

Through July 16, Detour at SPACES Gallery presents the work of five artists rerouted by an obstruction. Last month, prior to the exhibit's opening, the artists met to discuss their practices and share their areas of comfort and discomfort. By the end of the evening, each was assigned an obstacle by his or her peers. Their challenge was to create work for the exhibit while dealing with the assigned obstacle, all the while paired with a documentarian who would provide "color commentary" on the process. OhioAuthority arts writer and critic Eleanor LeBeau was asked to participate; this is the second in a series of her blogs - originally published on SPACES' website - documenting the experience of artist Arzu Ozkal. Join SPACES for Detour through July 16.

THE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE: Day Two

6:08 a.m.

I wake excited and panicked. How am I going to pull off this play-by-play color commentary? I have obstacles, too:   

  • Day job
  • Distance from here to Oberlin
  • Access to Arzu

Plus another big one: Is it even possible to document the creative process? Especially the creation of a performance? All I know is what Arzu tells me verbally and in writing. In the name of mischevious play, she could very well mislead me. There are no sketches or maquettes to give snapshots of her thoughts. 

How does she work? Does she make notes? Write a performance score? Does it happen all in her head? I drink three cups of coffee (milk, no sugar). I listen to music—not NPR’s morning news—on my commute to work. I don’t need anything else to fill my head.

2:53 p.m

I’m at my day job. Arzu beams an email while she’s in class at Oberlin: I have some ideas forming. Shall we meet tomorrow night to discuss? I have to meet with a choreographer at 4 (yes for Detour), so it would have to be after 6, if that’s okay with you.

A choreographer! What kind?

7:38 p.m.  

I hit Arzu’s Web site to learn more about her work. I watch a half-dozen videos. I read everything, except for an article written in Turkish. Slam! I’m shut out. Now that’s a pedagogical moment. Here’s a CliffsNotes version of her practice.  Keep in mind that form and content are inextricably intertwined: 

FORM:

  • New Media: video, Web sites, sound
  • Public interventions
  • Objects: original and appropriated
  • Graphic Design
  • Lectures
  • Teaching

CONTENT: 

  • The body as a site of social and political discourse.
  • The body as a site of state surveillance and control.
  • How is “knowledge” produced?
  • What is the relationship between “knowledge” and myth?
  • Semiotics: The processes of signification: How do words and objects accrue and produce meaning?
  • Strategies used by the “state” to inculcate feelings of  nationalism—i.e. a collective identity and goals—in its citizens. How and why do national symbols like flags evoke profound feelings of nationalism? How is language used to inculcate identity?
  • What is the purpose of nationalism?
  • Homogeneity is a consequence of nationalism. What are the consequences of homogeneity?
  • Personalized digital technologies can be used as a form of government and corporate surveillance. Arzu writes in “Technology Hijacking the Public Sphere,” a 2006 paper delivered at a symposium in Istanbul: Today, everyone in the world—even the youngest member of the populace—is encouraged to connect and stay connected to the network 24/7. It looks great to see those mini-laptops-for-children campaigns in the name of supporting education. Certainly, there will be many positive imapcts. But on the other hand, one should not dismiss that every computer hooked up to the network, every IP address assigned to a person will identify another traceable individual to be surveyed for national security and/or corporate interest.  
  • The effects of war on children.
  • Strategies for breaking down socioeconomic and racial/ethnic barriers in communities.
  • The power of passive resistance.

Good night.

 

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Sunday Satire: A Letter from LeBron

Region

Sunday Satire: A Letter from LeBron

Posted by James Colman and tagged with Cleveland, LeBron James, satire; 12:00am, June 6th 2010

Dear Cleveland,

Thank you for your outpouring of support. Whether it's the truly stirring reworking of "We Are the World" by the city's biggest d-list celebs or outright groveling, it means a lot. I'm blessed to live in a city whose thousands of residents, despite having never met me, know exactly what I should do – and aren't afraid to say it. The city's biggest newspaper has been an endless sources of guidance. Heck, even New York's major media has offered free advice.

Remember when you were 25, when the future was wide open? Remember how much you loved being told what to do? I do, because I am 25. Imagine, if you will, having the weight of an entire franchise placed on your shoulders. That's a lot of pressure. Now, by curious extension, imagine having the future success of a city tied up in your next move. I'm from Northeast Ohio, and I understand the challenges of our region, but I'm not the answer.

I may have been dubbed "king", but that was a marketing gimmick. I don't have the power to make any of the sweeping reforms and changes the city needs to really grow. Basketball season is not year-round, and there are much bigger issues plaguing our city, far from the court. Addressing those issues lies squarely in the hands of Cleveland's real leaders, those government officials and proactive citizens. At the end of the day, the power is in your hands, Cleveland. At the very least, you don't need a basketball game to go out and support local businesses.

I have been undeniably blessed with my success and talents. I love to play basketball, which is a game, let's not forget, and I love to win. However,  the nature of sports is that sometimes teams win, and sometimes teams lose. Getting to play in the NBA finals, much less winning, is a tall order. (That's an NBA joke.)

Whether I stay or go, the city will still have issues. Think of the good you could do if you all got behind some of the city's toughest problems the way you've rallied around me. I think that's a good sign, don't you?

Lastly, let's give credit where it's due. Congratulations to a true champion, one who quietly triumphed in heated competition and brought top honors home to Northeast Ohio. Eighth-grader Anamika Veeramani is the 2010 National Spelling Bee Champion, the Cleveland area's first since 1964. Champions are all around us here. One person doesn't have to carry the load alone.

LBJ

[Photo by Kevin Nortz]

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Blogging Detour: Part 1

Arts

Blogging <i>Detour</i>: Part 1

Posted by Eleanor LeBeau and tagged with art, artist, blog, downtown, exhibit, free, gallery, reception; 12:00am, May 14th 2010

This evening marks the opening reception for Detour at SPACES Gallery. The exhibit presents the work of five artists rerouted by an obstruction. One week ago, the artists met to discuss their practices and share their areas of comfort and discomfort. By the end of the evening, each was assigned an obstacle by his or her peers. Their challenge was to create work for the exhibit while dealing with the assigned obstacle, all the while paired with a documentarian who would provide "color commentary" on the process. OhioAuthority arts writer and critic Eleanor LeBeau was asked to participate; beginning today we'll share her blogs - originally published on SPACES' website - documenting the experience of artist Arzu Ozkal. Join SPACES tonight 6pm to 9pm for the opening reception of Detour, and check back with OhioAuthority to read LeBeau's take on the experience.

 

Composed on May 7, 2010 about 10:09 a.m.

THE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE: DAY ONE

05.05.10

Prologue

When French art critic and curator Nicolas Bourriard famously described a work of art as “a dot on a line,” what he meant was that a great deal of thought, research, planning and labor precedes the realization of a painting, document or performance. The public only gets to see the dot.  Most of the time, the critic only gets to see the dot. Detour is a rare but much-needed chance for the critic and the public to see the line - and then the dot.   

6:20 p.m.

Arzu Ozkal and I were the first participants to arrive at Detour’s meeting of five artists and five critics (pictured above). Christopher Lynn, SPACES’ genial director, introduced us. Arzu rushed from Oberlin College, where she teaches studio and new media art. I came from a nine-hour shift at my day job, headquartered somewhere in Ohio City, which shall remain unnamed for confidentiality reasons. Arzu grabs a beer from the spread of refreshments Chris has laid out for us. I grab an oatmeal cookie (bad girl) to go with the coffee I brought along. Behind us, multidisciplinary artist Bruce Edwards peels a tangerine. I comment on the refreshing smell. Bruce offers me a slice. I eat it, grateful for the gesture. Participants trickle in and soon the room’s abuzz.

8:15 p.m.-ish

Excited by the smart conversation, I’m losing track of time. Using their websites as jumping-off points, the five artists brief us on their practices. I’m intrigued by all, but most intrigued by Arzu’s work. The Turkish-born artist uses videos, websites, public interventions and performances to explore the “concept of the body” (as she puts it) and its “relation to social and political discourses.” Yes! She’s been reading Michel Foucault and probably the work of Amelia Jones, a prominent scholar of performance art. Yes! Chris asks the artists and writers to pair up. I immediately turn to Arzu. She nods. I’m thrilled. 

During a break I discover that Arzu has met the subject of my very long master’s thesis: James Luna (Luiseño), a performance-installation artist whose body — and its “relation to social and political discourses”—is a main component of his work. Arzu’s eyes brighten when I mention Luna. “He’s one of my favorite artists,” she says. Arzu met Luna when she was a graduate student at SUNY Buffalo. She had a studio visit with him and, inevitably, he was intrigued by her work.  

9:30 p.m.-ish

We’re still in the process of choosing the obstacles for each artist. The conversation is electric. Ideas are swirling around the room. Arzu is fairly quiet throughout the process, mainly sitting back and observing. The artists are struggling to impose obstacles on each other. “Are we supposed to make each other miserable?” someone asks.

“Well, I wouldn’t rule out misery, as long as it’s not misery for misery’s sake,” Chris replies.

We come to Arzu. There’s talk about asking her to work in a gallery space, since she’s never done that. Her artworks are performances on the streets of  Buffalo, websites like “A Daily Media Diary of Turkey” and videos posted on the Internet. Chris suggests we might ask her to become an “insider,” since many of her projects deal with her being an “outsider.” Earlier, Arzu told us that she came to the U.S. as a “quasi-Middle-Easterner” right after 9/11, and her work began to deal with this identity as a “foreigner.” Chris also notes that she tends to take a passive role in her public interventions/performances. In Unattended Body, Arzu sat silent and motionless on black-topped strip-mall parking lots and grassy patches next to bank buildings, her videographer waiting to capture a passerby’s confused stare. Her venues are public spaces. Her audience — though often unwitting — is the public. 

The group decides. She gets more obstructions than the other artists:

1) Be active

2) Stage something

3) Bring an audience

I feel confident that she can rise to the task. I also feel guilty because I suggested she try more than one. Will she later thank me or curse my name?

10 p.m.-ish

Excited but weary-eyed, Arzu and I agree to email the next day. Tomorrow we both work day jobs, but make plans to meet on Friday. 

 

Image courtesy of Brandon Juhasz.

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A Thin Line

Region

A Thin Line

Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with beer, Cleveland, Indians, sports; 12:00am, April 30th 2010

Not content to let us wallow in our misery, the world heaped further ignominy on Cleveland earlier this week when we learned that the Cleveland Indians are the most hated team in baseball.

According to WSJ.com, an Internet algorithm developed by Nielsen Co. can analyze how people feel about certain things by using keywords to determine positive, negative or neutral reactions to brands and products. Far be it from me to accuse Nielsen of developing a faulty algorithm, but clearly the most hated team in baseball is the New York Yankees.

Everyone knows this, and it can be easily proven by consulting a few easily available statistics. How many World Series championships have the Yankees won? 400? Eighty some? Okay, it's 27, but still: A lot. Very many. In pursuit of these titles, the Yankees have defeated 10 different teams, so it stands to reason that the fans of those teams must  hate the Yankees. So that right there is a lot of people, way more people than could possibly hate the Indians for winning a measly two world championships. Dodger fans alone (if we count both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles iterations) should really hate the Yankees: the Dodgers have lost the World Series to the Bronx Bombers a whopping eight times.

Nielsen's algorithm starts to look even shakier when you consider Cleveland's losses in the Fall Classic. The Indians have lost three World Series, so it's only logical to assume that fans of the old New York Giants, Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins (wow...that one still really hurts) should actually love the Cleveland Indians.

Another reason that none of this makes sense is that Nielsen's algorithm rates the Yankees as the fifth most-hated team. This is ludicrous, because the Yankees would never settle for being fifth at anything, particularly if they found themselves with some extra cash prior to the trade deadline. If the Yankees knew they were in fifth place, rest assured they'd be able to make an extremely lucrative offer to anyone who could get them to that coveted "most hated" spot - the Devil, say, or Bernie Madoff. Perhaps they'd even let Lucifer announce his own comeback from the owner's box in Yankee Stadium, during the seventh inning stretch. Just an example I thought of! Not at all based on past events!

In the WSJ article, Ed Carroll of DeepLeftField.com proposed that perhaps the Indians are the most hated team in baseball because the team "does a lot to alienate its fans." On his blog, Carroll points out that his remarks were taken a bit out of context, offering up the trades of Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez and CC Sabathia as evidence of team management's missteps. This particular kind of hate is rooted in love, however, and no one would care about the Indians' more boneheaded trades if it didn't hurt so much to see our favorite players (and perhaps our post-season prospects) ride off into the sunset.

Maybe some people hate the Indians because of the Chief Wahoo logo, which draws protesters and sparks discussion with the opening of each new season. Or maybe they hate them because a large beer costs $7.75 at Progressive Field, though that's hardly unique to the Indians. (Still hate-worthy, though.) Or it could be that decades of frustration simply manifests itself as hate when in fact, it's just envy. Envy of teams that win multiple World Series titles, giving their fans renewable bragging rights.

Teams like the Yankees, who everyone hates. Mathematical fact.

Fresh Start: Week of April 26

Arts , Food & Drink , Health & Education , Home & Style , Region

Fresh Start: Week of April 26

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, artist, baking, benefit, books, Cleveland, concert, culture, dance, gallery, jazz, painting, poetry, sculpture, writer; 12:00am, April 25th 2010

Collaboration requires baked-in leadership, and we’re not just talking about pie. Progress is made when leaders lead where there’s a need, galvanizing others in the process. The folks in the Lake Erie Building at Templar Industrial Park are leaders. They decided collaborating on an open house was the perfect way to usher in spring and showcase the West Side’s inner ring artistry. A local professor continues to lead beyond instruction: his weekend-long poetry exposition offers a soapbox for amazing writing and perspectives, bringing in poets from far and wide. A local dance company’s cutting-edge performances continue to lead in the Midwest – and have drawn in a couple of organizational fans for a new breed of benefit concert. That’s three Fresh Starts just for you. None of them happens in a vacuum.

Jawing In Kent

It’s been a long time since the Classic Cleveland Poetry Slam at the Beachland Ballroom came to an end. Thankfully, there are many events across Northeast Ohio that have filled the gap. Kent State University poetry professor Maj Ragain helms one of the best: the annual Jawbone Poetry Reading and Pie Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this Friday, April 30 and runs through the weekend. The affecting catalyst, as revered as the late Daniel Thompson by some, provides an open poetry forum with featured guests from across the region and the country. The whole weekend ends up being a venerable who’s who for regional poets. Of course, there’s pie, too. Lots of pie. This is a must for anyone with a poetry jones. Learn more at Standing Rock’s website.

Screw You

Take in the Screw Factory Artists Spring Open Studio this coming Saturday, May 1 from 1 to 8 pm, at the edge of Birdtown in Lakewood. Artists Arabella Proffer, Gina DeSantis, Shannon Okey and more than two dozen other local artists open their Lake Erie Building studio doors for a no-cost, open to the public open house. The mediums on display for this auction-exhibit include fiber, photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass and mosaics. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Friends of Madison Park. Organized in 2007, FOMP is a community group committed to enhancing Lakewood’s Madison Park as a “backyard park” for children and families.

Watching the ‘Wheels

Here’s one that’s sure to end up on many “Best Of” lists at the end of the year: Dancing Wheels Dance Company and School joins forces with two marquee arts organizations for a benefit gala/concert at the State Theatre at Playhouse Square Saturday, May 1 at 7:30 pm. Titled And All That’s Jazz!, it features special musical guests the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, along with the heavenly Singing Angels and students from the physically-integrated dance company and school. The program features two world premiere dances, including one by Broadway legend Donald McKayle, who will give a pre-performance talk prior to the performance. The gala, featuring hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a silent auction, immediately follows in the theatre’s swanky lobby.

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