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Last weekend (May 12-15), far away from the mighty Chelsea and across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, 36 international artists, curators and collectives opened their studios to the public. Due to the large amount of Dutch participants I almost began to wonder why I had come all the way to New York. But the works of Irish artist Katie Holten, the Danish Jeannette Ehlers and the Spanish artist Sádaba Ixon, to name a few, made the trip to Brooklyn more than worth it.

From the site-specific works found along the way towards the ISCP studios, it was Nature by the Irish artist Katie Holten which stood out most. In the context of the exhibition In The Back of The Real, Holten was invited to create a new work addressed in the complexity of this by industry dominated residential neighbourhood. Positioned on the metal fences hiding the scrap yard from the eye of the passerby, Holten’s simple but strong statement showed what it is that this neighbourhood is lacking; nature.

In his new work Powerslave, rev. main (Signature Series) (2011), David Jablonowski aims to address the current complicated political situation of the Middle East mainly focussing on Egypt. Jablonowski continues working with the collage-like method, we know from his previous work, recently shown at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Bloomberg Space in London. For Powerslave, he skilfully combines various elements calling into question America’s commercial aesthetics in relation to the current turbulent political situation in Egypt.

Like Jablonowski, Danish artist Jeanette Ehlers shows us she is not afraid to touch upon sensitive political matters. In her latest video, The Invisible Empire (2010) she brings to our attention, the possibly forgotten history of slave trading and relates it to the concealed realities surrounding global trafficking. Past and present are joint together since Ehlers chose to work with her own father who is originally from Trinidad, a former Spanish / British colony whose inhabitants were dominated and exposed to intensive slave trading between the 16th century and the beginning of the 18th century.

Next to the majority of politically engaged works, there were other tendencies to discover. The work of Spanish artist Ixone Sádaba is a more ambiguous one. With her ongoing project Shipwreck With Spectator (2011), she researches the possibilities of removing the literal reading of realities representation from the theatrical moment. Sádaba chose to work with a group of Kurdish art students who she asked to perform the plotless play by Peter Handkle Offending the Audience (1966). The collaboration resulted in a video and photographic documentation, destabilizing and critically questioning the way we read and understand, in this case the Kurdish reality. But like in Handkle’s play, this piece shows nothing more then what is actually there: a set and a group of actors in a specific landscape.

David Maroto, unique in the ISCP context with his approach and interested in actively engaging the observer in the performative moment which leads to the completion of the storyline as well as opening it up to new readings. In his installation Casa Diogenes (2011) it is through an accumulation of images and textual reference that the personal history of the protagonist unfolds. The poetic and inter-textual qualities of the soundtrack and the images, create a world in which memory, identity and space are accumulated.

Not all participating artists showed new work due to several reasons. Although her time at ISCP is nearly at its end, the Norwegian photographer Eline Mugaas presented a studio full of work in progress. This particular year at ISCP she had used to find a new, more challenging direction in her work. In contradiction to her earlier urban landscape based photography, some of her new work will either concentrate now more on the three-dimensional object as the starting point for a research into the two-dimensional space of the photographic medium.

Being at the start of her residency the Belgian artist Danai Anesaidou opted for a more experimental approach than showing existing work. The vintage movie posters from the fifties and sculptural interventions are presented as visual sketches possibly leading to a new performance.

The presentation in the studio of French sculptor Etienne Chimbeau was an exercise for his new work presented at the upcoming Art Basel fair. While the Canadian, Berlin based artist Jeremy Shaw was busy working on his participation in a soon to be opened show in Berlin. He gave us a sneak preview of his latest work Transcendental Capacities (Donna Summer – I Feel Love [Patrick Cowley Megamix], 1982) (2011) together with older video work. Jeremy Shaw is currently part of the group show The New Psychedelic, which is on view until the beginning of June at MU, Eindhoven.

ISCP Open Studios
May 12-15
New York

Fleur van Muiswinkel

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