Embark Gallery Presents "This Is A Test"

Four emerging artists present experimental work in Dada-inspired exhibition

Mengmeng Lu. Test 3*3, 2017. Digital photography.

Mengmeng Lu. Test 3*3, 2017. Digital photography.

Every Tuesday at noon the test of the emergency broadcast system echoes over San Francisco “This is a test. This is only a test.” Both ominous in a dystopian sense and reassuring in it’s reliable repetition, the siren and accompanying voice have become an emblem for this show, in which four emerging artists present experimental works that try and try again. As the original Dadaists turned to absurdity to protest the politics of their time, these artists trouble contemporary systems of logic through trial-and-error artmaking, ultimately presenting new possibilities for the “purpose” of art, and all the while documenting the process.

Mengmeng Lu (SFAI) exhibits a playful photographic series inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s Horse In Motion. Whittling down identity to a cyborg-like character that she then applies to different models whilst simultaneously referencing this historical modernist achievement, Lu breaks down barriers of time and history. The work questions the threshold between “life” and “lifelike” and these double images act essentially as a performance of the artist’s own psyche, tested upon different bodies.

Judit Navratil (CCA) shares with us her long-distance somersault career, which is part of an ongoing project in which she inhabits different characters and travels to various locations to practice her craft. The rolling is a meditative practice, forcing the artist to accept and adapt to what lies ahead. Yet it also a demonstration of futility, akin to a hamster spinning in a wheel. It is in the superfluous and amusing qualities of this simple act that Navratil finds freedom.

Oberon Strong. ALL FALLS DOWN, 2017. VHS/digital video, 5 min 49 sec. Still.

Oberon Strong. ALL FALLS DOWN, 2017. VHS/digital video, 5 min 49 sec. Still.

Oberon Strong (SFSU) is an experimental filmmaker whose work explores the queer body and otherness. Strong’s work draws upon the aesthetics and technologies of their childhood to create a queer dystopia, in direct challenge to a utopia in which the hero overcomes repressive social constructs. The deconstructed qualities of the work aim to show that gender has no form or content, and embraces indefinability.

Cristina Velazquez (SFAI) will perform live in the gallery with an iteration of These Flags, a performance that challenges divisions made by Nationalism and invented borders. Questioning the rhetoric of a country that stands “united” during an actually extremely divisive presidential administration, Velazquez’s performance is a metaphorical action for peace that is ultimately futile, as the artist acknowledges such a utopian state will probably never be realized.

 

This exhibition was juried by Micki Meng of Altman Siegel Gallery and Clea Massiani of Bass & Reiner.

Press Previews by appointment.

Opening Reception: November 10, 2017. 6-9pm

Hours: 12–5pm every Saturday and Sunday, November 11 - December 16

Media Contact: Angelica Jardini, Curatorial Director       angelica@embarkgallery.com

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Embark Gallery Presents “Neighbors”

Four emerging artists explore contemporary politics of race, culture and citizenship

Christopher Marin. Lift Me Up, 2016-2017. Acrylic on canvas mural.

Christopher Marin. Lift Me Up, 2016-2017. Acrylic on canvas mural.

Though in some ways the world has never been more globalized, a troubling trend of Nationalism is (re)emerging. These four emerging artists from local graduate institutions grapple with issues of race, culture, and citizenship, probing the complicated power structures that sustain our definitions of us (U.S.) vs "Them." Art has always been a useful means through which to understand culture and with Neighbors we are attempting to dissect this fraught political moment by provoking conversations that have the power to shift perspectives. The artists’ thoughtful investigations into these charged and divisive issues ask us to reconsider learned belief systems, dismantle malevolent frameworks of oppression in governance and to remember past political struggles as we strive to achieve a more just and inclusive society.

Christopher Marin (CCA) presents beautifully rendered, mural-sized portraits of Black American history.  Shown in an enclosed space, the life-sized paintings envelop the walls and the viewer entirely. An audio track booms throughout the small room, sampling Martin Luther King, Jr., President Obama and other important figures represented in his work. Underlying these snippets of speech is an almost celebratory musical remix of old protest songs and contemporary Hip-Hop, peppered with news stories that revolve around police brutality and Black Lives Matters protests. The jarring juxtaposition is emotional and ultimately hopeful, though past struggles and atrocities are certainly not glossed over. Marin gets at the complex state of contemporary race politics in a society where Black culture is appreciated (often fetishized), appropriated and, ultimately, monetized without the recognition of the systemic and institutional consequences of living in a country built on slavery. Tall light posts in the main gallery stand in for proud brown bodies as Marin’s red portraits take the place of celebratory street banners. Rendered on blue paper, the work reluctantly takes on the colors of police lights and of the American flag.

Shari Paladino. Habitas, 2017. Wood. Installation view.

Shari Paladino. Habitas, 2017. Wood. Installation view.

Amy Nathan (Mills) presents an installation that aims to offer new ways of understanding power structures, ultimately dismantling them. Beginning with a photograph of President Trump in the Oval Office watched over by his chosen presidential portrait of Andrew Jackson, Nathan gathers empirical data and deconstructs the image according to form and color. Following a precise set of invented rules, Nathan remakes the image as a series of silkscreen prints which teeter on a small ledge. Through this process Nathan destroys the inherent performance of the picture and exposes its fallacies, questioning the misuse of “logic” by those in the seats of power. The precarious installation also reminds us of the chaos that could ensue if, or when, our current systems fail.

Shari Paladino (UC Berkeley) will install Habitas, a sculptural performance set for a piece based on the hidden paternity story of her older brother. The script, titled Dark Italian Recipe, consists of mismatched narratives and cut up stories, calling into question the sub-textual narratives of race, heritage, purity, and culture. In the script the term “Dark Italian” comes under scrutiny for for the role it plays in the family’s response to having one mixed race child, and for its peculiar combination of racism and charade. The semi-autobiographical piece is ultimately a critical investigation into self-definition and belonging, and investigates racism in American culture through a lens of nostalgia and personal memories.

Keyvan Shovir (CCA) shows a series of sculptures shaped as military aviation planes and drones, decorated like the spiritual architecture of mosques from his home country of Iran. The vibrant works are titled “Mihrab” after the niche in the wall of mosques that faces towards Mecca. Through this clashing of imagery, the delicate lace cutouts on top shapes that infer violence, Shovir references the community and pride inherent in the Muslim practice of prayer, which continues on even in the face of Islamophobia and warmongering.

This exhibition was juried by Micki Meng of Altman Siegel Gallery and Clea Massiani of Bass & Reiner.

Embark Gallery offers exhibition opportunities to graduate students of the Fine Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. We provide a space for an engaged community of artists, curators and scholars, and we aim to expand the audience for up and coming contemporary art. The juried exhibitions are held at our gallery in San Francisco at the historic Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

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Press Previews by appointment.

Opening Reception: September 22, 2017. 6-9pm

Hours: 12–5pm every Saturday and Sunday, September 23 - October 28

Media Contact:  Angelica Jardini, Curatorial Director // angelica@embarkgallery.com

Accepted Artists for Neighbors and This Is A Test

Embark is pleased to present the artists for our fall shows Neighbors and This Is a Test. These shows were juried by Micki Meng and Clea Massiani. 

 

Neighbors

09/22/17 - 10/28/17, Opening Reception: Friday, September 22nd

Shari Paladino. Habitas, 2017. 

Shari Paladino. Habitas, 2017. 

Artists:

Christopher Marin | CCA

Amy Nathan | Mills

Shari Paladino | UC Berkeley

Keyvan Shovir | CCA

 

This is a Test

11/10/17 - 12/16/17, Opening Reception: Friday, November 10th

Judit Navratil. Gazdagrét // Budapest, 2015. Video.

Judit Navratil. Gazdagrét // Budapest, 2015. Video.

Artists:

Mengmeng Lu | SFAI

Judit Navratil | CCA

Oberon Strong | SF State

Cristina Velazquez | SFAI

I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty

I Am Maneuvering With Difficulty

Embark Gallery is pleased to present Angela Willetts as one of three inaugural artists of R&D Projects, a series of research-intensive postgraduate fellowships and summer solo exhibitions. In researching Fort Mason’s history and following conversations with National Park Service historians, Willetts’ explorations of the defunct military base led her to consider how the psychology of fear and defense systems currently operate within her own life. Borrowing military strategies and languages, her work underscores themes of vulnerability and protection through task-based performances, drawings, and handmade, site-specific flags.

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Lurid Ecologies & A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge

July 28 – August 19
Opening Reception Friday, July 28, 5-8pm

Embark Gallery is pleased to present Tanja Geis and Christopher Nickel as the inaugural artists of R&D Projects, a series of research-intensive postgraduate fellowships and summer solo exhibitions. With this program, we are extending our support of emerging MFA artists to their postgraduate careers by offering graduated artists who have previously shown with Embark the opportunity to develop new scholarly and investigative projects in partnership with local nonprofits. Geis was paired with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Nickel responded to the Internet Archive.


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Lurid Ecologies: Ways of Seeing the Bay

Tanja Geis | UC Berkeley 2015

Geis has partnered with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) to develop an exhibition responding to their work monitoring, conserving and restoring the San Francisco Bay. For Embark, Geis reimagines the substrates set in the bay for colonization by Ostrea lurida, the native oyster, for a series of phantasmagoric drawings made using mud pigment from the Bay. These drawings are shown alongside a 3-channel video installation, shot in research tanks at the Romberg Tiburon Center.

Ostrea lurida. Lurid oyster. The etymology of “lurid” is uncertain yet some of its earliest uses referred to the interplay of light and darkness, the aspect of things when the sky is overcast, the color of smoky flames, or perhaps the appearance of sunlight filtered through silty Bay waters. These works consider the vitally important, complex, and often turbid endeavor of SERC's research, and its techniques and apparatus, to address how scientific and aesthetic framing of complex ecologies inform how we look and what goes unseen. The restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay is part of the Living Shorelines Project which is funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Geis makes paintings, installations, videos and participatory events that explore liminal and mongrel spaces as zones for the transformation of ecological perception. She holds an MFA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley, an MRM in Marine Management from the University of Akureyri, Iceland, and a BA in Fine Art from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and venues in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, the UK, Japan, and Iceland. She was born in Hong Kong and lives in Oakland, CA.


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A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge: A Visual Archive

Christopher Nickel | Stanford 2015

For A Few Select Bits of All Knowledge: A Visual Archive, Nickel mines the image collection of the Internet Archive—an ever-expanding visual database of user generated digital (and digitized) media—for the raw materials to create large-scale scroll-like tableaus. These digital collages of seemingly unrelated images have been filtered through the eclectic categories employed by the Whole Earth Catalog—a publication that acted as compendium and how-to guide for the utopian visions enacted by the self-sufficient back-to-the-land communities of the 1960s and 70s. Visually drawing the two together acknowledges both the active role that the Whole Earth Catalog took in promoting digital networks as the emerging form for self-organizing communities, while also serving as a direct model for our current Internet-based aggregators, searches engines, and the non-hierarchical system the Internet Archive has applied to its multiple repositories as they seek to fulfill their mission of providing “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

In his recent projects, Nickel has focused on the physical presence of the Internet, attempting to recast its virtual, disembodied appearance as a physical object— a single fantastically complex body with mass and material, with a long history of evolution, existing in specific geographic locations. He holds an MFA from Stanford University, a BFA from California College of the Arts, and lives and works in Oakland, CA.


Upcoming: I Am Maneuvering with Difficulty

August 25 – September 16
Angela Willetts | UC Davis 2016

Willetts, following conversations with National Park Service historians, has created a body of work addressing the history of the Fort Mason campus and the semiotics of naval and military infrastructures. Using open­-ended, experience-­based inquiry around physical materials to explore ideas of entanglement and interdependence, Willetts' work encompasses sculpture, performance, installation and video. Originally from the UK, she has lived and worked in the Bay Area for the last eighteen years. 


Artist Websites
www.tanjageis.com
www.christopher-nickel.com
www.angelawilletts.com

Embark Gallery
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
2 Marina Blvd., Bldg. B, Ste. 330
San Francisco, CA 94123
www.embarkgallery.com

Gallery Hours
Saturdays and Sundays 12 – 5pm or by appointment from July 28 – August 19

Press Preview
Thursday, July 27, 10am – 5pm [by appointment]

Press Contact
Christopher Squier, christopher@embarkgallery.com