VIRGINIA LEE MONTGOMERY
“Multimedia artist Virginia Montgomery is serving seductive wackiness in impossibly polished packaging at False Flag in Long Island City until March 24th. The Yale MFA graduate and current Socrates Sculpture Park Fellow has been touting her brand of felt, gesture-driven cyber-subjectivity to greater and greater fanfare of recent months, making appearances at Crush Curatorial in Chelsea, the New Museum’s Screen Series, and Arsenal Contemporary in New York, not to mention a debut of her video Honey Moon at Times Square Alliance’s Midnight Moment exhibition in February. Her intimate, eerie interplay of video and sculpture ferment metaphysically in space, exhuming our funkiest enclaves of affect in the process. Stay tuned for her upcoming solo shows at Crush Curatorial in Chelsea and the Lawndale Art Center in Houston.”
By Artspace Editors
MARCH 7, 2019
See Yourself X: Human Futures Expanded
28 × 23 cm | 9 × 11 in
240 ills | 192 pages
Author: Madeline Schwartzman
Contributors: Louis-Philippe Demers, Olaf Martens, Katharine Dowson, Mariana Fantich, Dominic Young, Ruth Marten, et al
See Yourself X: Human Futures Expanded (SYX) is the second volume of Madeline Schwartzman’s timely series that looks at human perception and the sensory apparatus. See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception (2011)—the first of the series—is a collection of fifty years of futuristic proposals for the body and the senses. See Yourself X focuses in on our fundamental perceptual domain—the human head—presenting an array of conceptual and constructed ideas for extending ourselves physically into space. What will be the physical future of the head and the sensory apparatus in fifty years time, as the mechanisms for how we communicate and sense change, and become obsolete, prompted by the advancement of brain-to-brain communication? SYX looks at where we are now, in the hope of projecting into that future.
SYX explores all forms of physical head augmentation, including new organs, hair extensions and hairdos, masks, head constructions and gear, headdresses, prosthetics and helmets by artists, designers, inventors and scientists, as well as technological extensions into space. Conceptual topics include the obliteration of the face in fashion, art and folk wedding costume; the politics of hair extension from 18th century hair rolls to contemporary fashion; surrealistic juxtapositions of objects and the head; gender, ritual and identity in contemporary art hair and hair constructions; space-age architectural helmets of the 60s, and conceptual projects that highlight, analyze or deny the internal or perceived functioning of the head and brain. Everyone with a head should be interested in this book.
SYX had inauspicious origins. In March 2012 Schwartzman was involved in an airplane crash on the way to a book talk. The wing of her Delta MD-80 knocked over a shuttle bus at over 150 miles per hour while landing in Detroit. Luckily no one was hurt. But it did spark an investigation: do pilots feel the width of their wings? If so, this would mean that the head was effectively approximately 150 feet wide? This was the catalyst for SYX: to look across art practices and contemporary culture at all ways of extending the head into space, and to move headlong into the future.
See Yourself Sensing has been used widely at design institutions across the world. See Yourself X, like its predecessor, will be both an exhibition in book form, and an academic book, with examples of Schwartzman’s innovative head-centered design projects from Columbia University and Parsons.
Montgomery toys with the psychic space in which abjection is gendered, playfully prodding erotic hierarchies.
A blonde ponytail waits alone on an unmade bed. A drilled hole in a blue box reveals a blinking eye. Pliers snap a wire hanger, the hanger’s corner trembling to the sound of windchimes. A cheese Danish is slowly punctured by a prim pointer finger.
Welcome to the dreamscape of Virginia Lee Montgomery, whose recent videos charm — and alarm — in the New Museum’s Screens Series. A sculpture, video, and performance artist who has described her work as “a meta-structural argument for what it means for spirit to pass through form,” Montgomery marries an interest in the uncanny with a raptness toward the material. Error coins, dripping paint, Xeroxed cutouts of a smiling sphinx — the artist investigates each for its sensory properties, often referencing her professional history of diagramming ideas for corporate clientele.
Upon this rather sterile stage of inorganic matter, the bodily and visceral make cheeky cameos. Disembodied hair, colorfully woven or tied with humble strings, becomes a metonym for a roving female subject. Honey — which can sometimes look like urine — slides over a cardboard surface. Danish frosting (or lonely semen?) dribbles down from a rainbow braid.
What results is an intermittent and very whimsical sense of the abject, less horrifying than it is subtly unnerving — a poke in the proverbial id, a pinky in the ear of consciousness. A concept explored by Julia Kristeva in her seminal study Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection(1980), the “abject” is typically linked to excretions and waste, what the body leaves behind to remain intact. “[A]s in true theater, without makeup or masks, refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live,” the French-Bulgarian philosopher writes. “These body fluids, this defilement, this shit are what life withstands, hardly and with difficulty, on the part of death. There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being.”
Whereas artists such as Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, and Sarah Lucas have explored the abject from an overtly feminist angle (as, after all, female bodily functions have always been more stigmatized than male), Montgomery toys with the psychic space in which abjection is gendered, playfully prodding erotic hierarchies in which men and women have been historically fixed. Power tools take on an unexpected feminine zest, leaving perfect circles wherever they go, everything a potential orifice to peek and reach through, often to the tune of birdsong.
Montgomery is a woman who knows how to drill — literally, a Dewalt power tool in her pale, French-manicured hand. In Deep See (2017), the drill ruptures a 2-D seascape, a black-sleeved forearm entering to grasp at a human ponytail. In Pony Hotel (2018) shots of a sunny business suite are ruptured by close-ups of a silver bit suddenly entering a void. Cut Copy Sphinx (2018) montages one drill shot after another — each hole a possible frame for the artist’s own curious face. In Beyond Means(2017), pennies spin across a white surface, the sound of a drill whirring in the background. As a portal forms in a wall, a clear, gelatinous substance oozes from its edges, the artist’s by-now familiar hand invading to the sound of dripping water.
“Formally, I make work about circles — psychic or material ones, and what unexpectedly excretes out of open holes,” said Montgomery in a 2017 interview with She/Folk. “I can survey relationships between bodies, hierarchies between objects, genders, sounds, or forms, and thus allow forth a message to emerge from these intersecting realms of cognitive awareness and sensorial participation.”
Water Witching (2017), the longest video on display, invests these relationships with more conspicuously political significance. The spinning drill cuts to a corresponding graphic of a fearsome tornado, which segues into shots of melting glaciers, then to a montage of archival footage of women’s marches for reproductive rights. The hand-drawn hanger on a protest sign becomes an actual hanger relentlessly severed, then reshaped, by the artist’s fingers — as though carefully constructing some industrial talisman.
Whether bodies of water or bodies of women, cheese Danishes or a Dewalt drill, Montgomery perpetually tests the border between subject and object, matter and mind. “What is thing and what is theory?” her work seems to ask. What must we thrust aside to survive the tangible world?
Screens Series: Virginia Lee Montgomery, organized by Kate Wiener, continues at the New Museum (235 Bowery, Manhattan) through March 3.Read More
“Evoking tools of non-diplomatic relations, Asif Mian’s installation, “Nothingness & Specter” investigates the technological limits of thermal infrared cameras used in drone targeting. Plastic bags from local Queens businesses are fused together to form multi-patterned polypropylene smocks, which hang on steel stands like wispy scarecrows. Nearby, oscillating fans circulate hot and cool air, as ghostly figures appear and disappear on a closed circuit monitor fed by a thermal camera. This use of cameras associated with drones reminds viewers of the United States’ forever wars abroad, opening a searing critique of the domestic surveillance of Queens’s diverse population, by staging this elaborate decoy diverting state violence.
In her meticulously constructed videos, VLM conjures a surreal and idiosyncratic visual vocabulary, frequently populated by oozing cheese Danishes, animate ponytails, and manicured hands. Her practice bears the influence of her work as a graphic facilitator, a job for which she travels the country to diagram the development of ideas at group meetings and conferences, often for corporate clients. In her work as an artist, VLM turns this skill, which she describes as “mind map scribing,” inwards, rendering the contours of her own subconscious and the logic of her dreams and memories.
In the selection of videos on view, certain visual motifs—revolving drills, video glitches, prodding digits, reaching limbs, and dripping viscous liquids—recur in different contexts. Collectively, these forms and gestures rupture material surfaces, opening up portals to unknown ends.
Virginia Lee Montgomery (b. 1986) is an artist working between Texas and New York, primarily with video, performance, sound, and sculpture. VLM is a current 2018–2019 Socrates Fellow at Socrates Park, NY, and a 2019 member of CRITGROUP at The Contemporary Austin. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include: “HONEY MOON,” Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NY (2019); “PONYCOCOON,” False Flag, NY (2019); “The 2018–2019 Socrates Annual,” Socrates Sculpture Park, NY; “CRASH TEST: The Molecular Turn,” La Panacée-MoCo, Montpellier, France (2018); “An unbound knot in the wind,” CSS Bard, Hessel Museum of Art, NY (2018); “OPEN MIND: Selva Aparicio and VLM,” CRUSHCuratorial, NY (2018); “Material Deviance,” SculptureCenter, NY (2017); and “The Particle Accelerator Memorial Project,” Wright Laboratory, Physics Department, Yale University, CT (2015). She has been awarded residencies at The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center, Wright Laboratory, Coast Time, The Shandaken Project at Storm King, and The Vermont Studio Center. VLM was the recipient of Yale University’s Susan H. Wedon Award (2016) and was a nominee in sculpture for the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship (2016).
HONEY MOON (2018) was performed, produced, and edited by Montgomery, and filmed by the artist in a single, 170-second take within a miniature set, custom-built from black mirror planes. The title is coyly literal and the work itself is straightforward, documenting a real-time, solo performance with simple materials. And yet the effect is dreamlike, with a syrupy slowness that encourages serene contemplation.
In the center of the screen, amidst a dark void, a single hand — left, white, French manicure — holds a glowing model Moon. In two bursts, a second, unseen hand pours honey onto the orb. The viscous, aerated, translucent gold fluid flows over the surface of the Moon and the fingers of the hand, streaming into the darkness below. The fingers seem to react to the experience, moving through the honey and caressing the globe.
“We live in an age that often feels more unreal than real, in which things seem to move faster than we can perceive them. As an artist, I wanted to do something different; I wanted to create a sculptural film that felt material, soothing, and real. The inspiration to hold the Moon came from a dream. There, I touched the Moon and found peace. Times Square moves so fast. HONEY MOON asks that we slow down.”
—Virginia Lee Montgomery
Virginia Lee Montgomery (b. 1986, Houston, Texas, lives and works in Texas and New York City) received her MFA from Yale University in 2016 and her BFA from The University of Texas at Austin in 2008. She is a 2018 Socrates Fellow at Socrates Sculpture Park. Past exhibitions include AN UNBOUND KNOT IN THE WIND, Bard Hessel Museum of Art, NY (2018); CRASH TEST: The Molecular Turn, La Panacée, Montpellier, France (2018); MATERIAL DEVIANCE, SculptureCenter, NY (2017); Things you can’t unthink, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Canada (2016); and Particle Accelerator Memorial Project, Wright Laboratory, Yale University, CT (2015). She has been awarded other residencies at The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center, Wright Laboratory, Coast Time, The Shandaken Project at Storm King, and The Vermont Studio Center. Montgomery was the recipient of Yale University’s Susan H. Wedon Award and the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship Nominee in Sculpture (2016).
HONEY MOON is courtesy of the artist and was performed, produced, and edited by Virginia Lee Montgomery.
Image courtesy of Virginia Lee Montgomery.
For “Until it reached into our lives and destroyed the tranquility that we had,” Davis and curator Mike Maizels, assistant professor of art history at the University of Arkansas, conducted extensive archival research and fieldwork at various sites in western Arkansas connected to covert military training, money laundering, drug smuggling, and arms trafficking. This fieldwork included taking a recon flight over the region’s Ouachita National Forest and trekking into the forest in search of covert aistrips and drop-sites. Davis also conducted interviews with Arkansas residents who first-handedly investigated or witnessed some of the clandestine events, including a former Green Party Senate candidate and activist and an aviator who worked and flew from the Mena Intermountain Airport in 1980s. The research led to discoveries, including the frame of a windsock in a remote field, corroborating the location of a former covert airstrip in the Ouachita National Forest.
The event includes a film, photographs, and sculptures made from materials extracted from the remote Arkansas sites Davis journeyed to — earth hauled from runways, water scooped from Fourche La Fave River, spare parts and airplane windows mined from the Mena Intermountain Regional Airport aviation junkyard.
“Until it reached into our lives and destroyed the tranquility that we had" had its world premiere at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery in August 2018, The project is generously supported by the University of Arkansas School of Art, the University of Arkansas Humanities Committee, the Fine Arts Center Gallery and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.
Matty Davis’ work has been presented by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Max Ernst Museum, Steppenwolf Theater, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Judson Church, the 92nd St. Y, the Watermill Center, and the Arts Arena in Paris, among others. Apart from his own work, Davis has collaborated with Hito Steyerl, participated in Performa13 with Guido van der Werve and in Performa15 with David Hallberg and Francesco Vezzoli, and performed works by Tino Sehgal and Andy de Groat. He was the recipient of 2016 Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellowship, and recently selected as 1 of 25 artists to watch in 2019 by Dance Magazine. For more information visit www.mattydavis.net
Virginia Lee Montgomery’s video CUT COPY SPHINX screens tomorrow at CYFEST12, International Media Art Festival, curated by Victoria Ilyushkina.
30 John Street
DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Thursday, December 13th
6 pm - 10 pm
On view: December 13th -31st
”My guest is the artist Camille Hoffman. In her work Camille rethinks the narratives embedded in traditional American landscape painting. She points out the political motivations of the romantic landscape, it’s enforcement of ideas of Manifest Destiny and Western Exceptionalism, and, in doing so, she begins a conversation about the monolithic history of painting. Looking closely at this history motived Camille to focus on her materials. In addition to traditional oil paint, she uses printed matter collected from her daily life, ranging from holiday themed plastic tablecloths to discarded medical records, from plastic bags to nature calendars. The resulting works reimagine what a landscape painting can be, and point out how charged the medium has always been.
You can see Camille’s current show Excelsior: Ever Upward, Ever Afloat, in which she remixes the allegorical figures in the New York State Seal, now at the Queens Museum. It’ll be up through Fall 2019.
I’d like to thank Camille Hoffman, as well as False Flag Projects for hosting our talk. This show is produced by Sarah Levine and our music is by Jack + Eliza. Remember to leave a rating and review and subscribe to hear all of our episodes. Have a great week!
Find more of Camille Hoffman’s work at http://www.camillehoffman.com/
Find her show at the Queen’s Museum HERE
Camille is on Instagram @camillehoffmanstudio”
UNTITLED Miami 2018
Ocean Drive and 12th Street
South Beach, Miami
False Flag will present a solo booth of works by Emilie Gossiaux.
Visit us at booth A24.
Press and VIP Preview
1pm – 8pm
Three in-gallery conversations with scholar Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés, artist Camille Hoffman, and healer Veronica Agard focused on the forms and processes on view in Firelei Báez: Joy Out of Fire.
1:00 pm - Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés
2:00 pm - Camille Hoffman
3:00 pm - Veronica Agard
Presented as part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's annual Open House, there will also be opportunities for visitors to learn about the archival process, explore the Center's offerings, and get tips on creating a personal archive. For a full schedule of the day's activities click here.
Artists on Artists: Joy Out of Fire
Saturday, November 10, 2018
“Among the artistic projects i used to illustrate the issue, i’ll only mention Sterling Crispin’s N.A.N.O. , B.I.O. , I.N.F.O. , C.O.G.N.O. because of the way it illustrates the tension between the grand vision and promises of the Silicon Valley and the fragility of a world that is increasingly shaken by contingencies such as the depletion of natural resources (energy, minerals, etc.) and climate change.”
In a First Look profile for our October issue, Wendy Vogel discusses how Virginia Lee Montgomery subverts the paternalistic expectations of the business world in her sculptures and videos. “Montgomery . . . travels up to three weeks a month for her job as a graphic facilitator, diagramming the flow of ideas at focus groups and tech conferences,” Vogel writes. “So it seems fitting that her art highlights disruptions in the smooth machinery of capitalism.” Here, the artist shares a YouTube playlist of videos reflecting her interest in uncanny natural phenomena. —Eds.
Bitcoin Is the New Birkin Bag
Ten years after Bitcoin's launch, the coin’s scarcity has generated a market that's more luxurious than libertarian.
Link to the full article here.
“I see Bitcoin as an exotic financial asset that rich people are using to make more money, which at times is similar to art.”
“In 2012, Crispin came up with an idea for a sculpture about the apocalypse—which at the time seemed nigh: The end of the Mayan calendar threatened universal extinction. The technological singularity, when humans would mesh with robots and we would upload our souls to the cloud, threatened the end of our species as we know it. And the rise of Bitcoin threatened financial, political, and social chaos. Crispin titled the sculpture Self-Contained Investment Module and Contingency Package. Inside its cubic, steel framework is a post-apocalyptic survival kit composed of an emergency radio, heirloom seeds, a filtration water bottle, and, most importantly, Bitcoin mining hardware.
When Crispin completed the sculpture in 2015, the price of a Bitcoin was $220. “If I had dedicated [the hardware] to mining for the three years I had it, and then didn’t panic and sell when the price hit $300, I would probably be a multi-billionaire right now,” Crispin says. He’s transformed this regret into a kind of perverse creative delight. “I love the idea that as a material within a sculpture, the cryptocurrency might become more valuable than the sculpture itself,” he says.
Crispin intended the sculpture to be tongue-in-cheek; like the rest of his work, it’s critical of technological utopianism. Yet it demonstrates how cryptocurrency has evolved from a financial tool into something more akin to a Louis Vuitton suitcase, a Cartier watch, or a Jeff Koons sculpture. “People are not only buying Bitcoin in order to make money; they’re buying Bitcoin to be the kind of person who holds Bitcoin,” explains Jay Owens, a futurist and research director at the London firm Pulsar. “It’s functioning as a brand name.”