A sneak peek of Jordan Tate's Prefaces/ Appendices, which I had the pleasure of contributing to along with Amalie Smith, Lap Le, Brendan Embser Wattenberg, Nicolas O'Brien, Stephanie Sadre-Orafai, Cori Kirsch, Tim Davis, Rick Silva, and Abigail Susik. You can get your very own copy here: http://lodretvandret.com/prefaces/
Thank you to Artsy for including me in such great company.
Thank you to W Magazine for including me in their "Who's Next" feature in their October 2016 issue.
"The Tunisian-Russian artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke deals with conceptual and material relationships. What kinds of combinations of fabrics, media, and signs make sense, in either a conciliatory or an upsetting way? Matter Matters outlines certain constellations of meaning and thematic concepts. Register, diagram, material details, and excerpts from the artist’s work journal help to create temporal, physical, and conceptual contexts. A laboratory notebook that pursues a visual grammar of things."
I am so honored to have been involved in Nadia Kaabi-Linke's publication Matter Matters. Edited by Timo Kaabi-Linke and including essays by Asmaa Al-Shabibi & William Lawrie, Kim Conaty, Lorenzo Fusi, Ifthikar Dadi, Elaine Ng, Falko Schmieder, and Hoor Al Qasimi, Matter Matters is a stunning exploration of Kaabi-Linke's work.
You can get your own copy here.
Earlier this year, I had the honor of taking part in the Miami Rail's fantastic visiting writers program. It was such a pleasure to get better acquainted with the arts community in Miami, highlights including the Bookleggers Library and Versace Versace Versace.
The result of the program was the article below titled New Business: Art in Search of Alternative Economic Systems.
A few weeks ago I was asked by ArtNet to provide a sentence or two of art world career advice. My insight was included along with that of 61 other amazing women in the arts. It is an honour to be included in such great company.
You can read all the "secrets to art world success" here.
Justine Ludwig and I spent a lot of time together during this year’s Dallas Arts Week. Previews, openings, after- parties; galas, auctions, dinners. But we never really had a chance to talk. So on Sunday, April 12, I guilted her into picking me up from my hotel at 1530 Main Street, and driving me to her place of work, Dallas Contemporary, located at 161 Glass Street. Not unlike the movie Speed, the following conversation only took place while we were in motion.
HUNTER BRAITHWAITE (MIAMI RAIL): Okay, Justine just started the engine of her Honda Fit. Justine, where are we? What street are we on?
JUSTINE LUDWIG: We are currently on Ervay Street. [ Music starts playing.] I should turn this down.
RAIL: Do you always listen to rap while you’re driving?
RAIL: Good. You’re new at Dallas Contemporary, right?
LUDWIG: I’ve been there for seven months now. I’m the Director of Exhibitions/Senior Curator.
RAIL: But you yourself are not that senior. I mean, you’re pretty young. Where were you before?
LUDWIG: I previously was a curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
RAIL: Where’d you go to school?
LUDWIG: I went to Colby College for undergrad and Goldsmiths, University of London for grad school. In undergrad, I studied sculpture and early medieval art. In grad school, I studied global arts in the visual cultures department, where I primarily looked at issues of globalism and terrorism as related to aesthetics.
RAIL: For the record, Justine just ran a red light.
LUDWIG: Hey, c’mon, it was yellow!
RAIL: Look at that nice Chipotle sign. [A faux-vintage Chipotle sign is painted on the side of a brick building. ]
LUDWIG: I know, it’s fabulous. It’s trying to emulate the old ghost signs [that are fading on the historic warehouses] around us. That’s something that I really love about Dallas. There’s this very strange overlapping of things that are actually historical and recent attempts at creating a new history within the city.
RAIL: Can you see any parallels in the art world, in how contemporary art interacts with history?
LUDWIG: There’s a really strong interest in the contemporary. I see Dallas as a very progressive city, and so even the encyclopedic institution, the Dallas Museum of Art, has a really strong focus on contemporary artistic practice. This is a city that likes the new, that likes change, that likes embracing progressive thought.
RAIL: Yes, but there are exceptions. Yesterday, I was at Marguerite Steed Hoffman’s collection. On one wall she had a Laura Owens, but then she took us into a room and showed us a 700-year-old illuminated manuscript. Both of those things were equally important, it seemed.
LUDWIG: A lot of collectors are invested in what they love, what they care about really deeply, rather than just following trends.
RAIL: How does your institution fit in?
LUDWIG: We are a non-collecting institution. For me, that means that we should be committed to focusing on new commissions, and a wide array of local, national, and international art presented in the context of one another. We’re not doing big career retrospectives. We’re showing art that was made now, in the past few years.
RAIL: You have three exhibitions up right now. David Salle, Nate Lowman, and Anila Quayyum Agha. Friends With You also has a sculpture outside. These artists are quite different, yet the shows are unexpectedly harmonious. How did they come together?
LUDWIG: Well, the David Salle project and the Nate Lowman project came together around the same time. The idea was to have a conversation about contemporary painting—where it’s been and where it’s going. So the idea was to install those next to each other to engender a conversation there. The project with Anila came up a bit later. ArtPrize is coming to Dallas. We wanted to show that it presents some very critical and very interesting work. So we brought the winner of both the public prize and the jury prize.
RAIL: You said you are working on a book.
LUDWIG: I’ve been looking at the relationship between architecture and memory in visual arts among displaced peoples, specifically looking at the border regions. So far I’ve written primarily on Kashmir. Sophie Ernst did a really interesting project about India and Pakistan. She created these architectural models and projected drawings over them, like people that are remembering their homes after being ejected from them. I’ve started writing on Palestine and Israel, and artists that sort of engage directly in that subject matter.
RAIL: Texas is another border region. Is there a strong Latin American influence in Dallas?
LUDWIG: There’s a very sizeable community that identifies as being Latino or Hispanic. I think we’re up to almost 45 percent of the community now.
RAIL: How do you think that plays into the art world?
LUDWIG: Dallas Contemporary identifies as a bilingual institution. We’re trying to integrate more of that into our programing. I have long been interested in Latin American art; it’s something that I’m hoping to bring more of into the institution. Right now we’re doing a project with Pedro Reyes, who is based in Mexico City.
RAIL: How do your writing and curating relate?
LUDWIG: My curatorial practice is very much research-driven. I tend to spend a lot of time engaging with a subject matter. So I find that it’s very conducive to a writing practice. For me, writing is the way that I work out ideas. Even if something is not being published, I write extensively on subjects surrounding all of the issues that I curate. And then it’s also something that exists after the show is taken down, which I believe to be very important. Moving forward, I hope that there will be greater integration between my writing practice and my curatorial practice—at the very least, producing digital publications for everything that I do. I love writing, it’s something that’s always been very important to me, and I make time for it just about every day.
RAIL: On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the most provincial backwater and 10 being the epicenter, how would you define Dallas, as an international art city or as a more regional one?
LUDWIG: That’s a really complex question, because it depends on which aspect of the city you’re looking at. It’s an unbelievably multifaceted city. So I see it as super international. People generally are quite well traveled. There are people from all over that live here. The job market is really good, so people are constantly moving here, and there’s energy. But yet there is this very specific Dallas identity. There’s something that is very uniquely Dallas that makes it seem very small and unique in some ways. It’s not a bad thing or a positive thing; it’s just that there is this super Dallas culture. While a place like New York or London is such a crazy melting pot that the city is sort of constantly forced to reimagine itself in some ways, Dallas identity is so strong that you don’t really have that.
RAIL: Is Ross Perot still alive?
LUDWIG: [Laughs.] I get asked that all the time. The answer is yes, he is.
Thank you Patron Magazine for the warm welcome to Dallas.
By Patricia Mora
Photography by William Bichara
The Dallas Contemporary Has a New — Subtle — Sensibility
Peter Doroshenko is making waves with his upcoming exhibition by French luminary, Loris Gréaud. However, he seems to be swinging for the fences in other areas, too. Namely, he tapped Justine Ludwig to be the new Director of Exhibitions/Senior Curator at the Dallas Contemporary Museum, and she’s certain to bring arresting new shows to North Texas that are laced with a profoundly nuanced sensibility. Ms. Ludwig has luminous Euro good looks and, while being heir to a Swiss gene pool on the maternal side of her family is sheer serendipity, her intellect is most certainly intentionally and marvelously honed.
Ms. Ludwig is a native of Massachusetts and spent summers in Switzerland where she was introduced to museums at an early age. Her interest in art evolved into a fascination that led her to acquire a BA in Art History from Colby College and an MA in Global Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London. She subsequently gained experience at a variety of prestigious institutions, including MIT LIST Visual Arts Center, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the CAC in Cincinnati. In fact, the virtuosity of her background lends substantial heft to her praise for her newly found home. She avidly lauds the generosity of Dallas residents and states, “People in other cities simply don’t believe in philanthropy in the ways I see in Texas. Other cities have money but they don’t use it in the same way they do in Dallas.” She adds, “The people here are incredibly generous in opening up their private collections. It’s rare.”
With a penchant for work emerging from a variety of cultures, Ms. Ludwig is especially fond of art “in Pakistan, Mexico, and Brazil.” Moreover, she enjoys the refractory nature of contrasting cultures seen in adjacent spaces. “I like the idea of art ‘in dialogue.’ We currently have Mario Testino being shown with our other exhibitions. It becomes a way of offering different perspectives when you watch pieces in conversation with each other. All the works benefit when they’re juxtaposed this way.”
Before joining the Dallas Contemporary, Ms. Ludwig curated wide-ranging exhibitions that encompass: Patti Smith’s moody meditations on the passing of Robert Mapplethorpe; eye-popping paintings by Texas’s own platinum-haired stunner, Rosson Crow; contemporary miniaturist work in Pakistan that has emerged from roots in 16-century Mughal paintings; and work by Japanese artist, Shinji Turner-Yamamoto. In the words of Ms. Ludwig, the latter “elevate(d) a collection of discarded and decaying architectural materials into a meditative installation infused with serene beauty.” Indeed it did. And it doesn’t end there; quiet spaces that evoke a contemplative mood seem to offer consistent allure for Ms. Ludwig. And she’s aware that her “sensibility is very different from that of Peter (Doroshenko).” She notes, “That says a lot about what he is willing to do, that he’s willing to take risks.” That is certainly true. However, in the case of hiring Ms. Ludwig, he also demonstrated that he also constellates moments that flare with absolute brilliance.
Recently I had the honour of being asked by Hamra Abbas to write a little essay for her exhibition, Kaaba Picture as a Misprint, at Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai. I first came across Abbas's work in 2008 while researching my exhibition Realms of Intimacy: Miniaturist Practice from Pakistan at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati Ohio. I love her vision and it has been a pleasure watching how it has developed over the past few years.
The publication in its entirety can be found here.
Hamra Abbas' artistic practice draws from a myriad of sources and takes a diversity of forms. Her works originate from encounters and experiences - an image, icon or gesture - that are manipulated by the artist transforming its scale, function or medium. Her intention is to deconstruct the act of seeing by recreating images that form part of a collective memory. Unrestrained by subject matter or media, she takes an investigative approach to produce a diverse and holistic body of work addressing notions of cultural history, sexuality, violence, ornamentation, devotion and faith.
In her new body of works Abbas continues to explore the alternation of scale and medium but within the context of the visual language of devotion, using the Kaaba as the starting point of her enquiry. In Kaaba Pictures (a series commissioned for and first exhibited at the DeCordova Biennale, 2013), Abbas takes her cues from souvenirs that are bought by pilgrims during the Hajj pilgrimage. Often found within the private homes of her native Pakistan, these objects serve as a portable memory to the sacred ritual. Appropriated by the artist and transformed - from object to painting to large-scale photograph - the works begin to follow the format of the mass-produced images of their origin and are returned to the public for consumption.
In Kaaba Picture as a Misprint, a series of six photographs and the title of the exhibition, Abbas takes the cubic form of the Kaaba to its most simple geometric representation: two black rectangles. Through experimentation, the black form is broken down into cyan, magenta, and yellow versions of the shape, which are then printed off-centre. Through this technique, only when the three colours are layered upon each other is the image black. By deeming her method a "misprint", the artist links the quest for truth through religious devotion to the plethora of ways in which that truth can be understood.
Abbas employs a humorous approach in her practice often using materials that hint at playfulness. In Artists for instance she uses plasticine to make miniature portraits of great-canonized artists of contemporary art. These have been photographed and hugely distorted in scale in order to emphasize the quasi-religious significance that has often been attached to the great artists in history. Through this approach, Abbas is able to convey the way in which, throughout history, artists have been mythologized and in doing so taken on an identity far greater than that of mere mortals.
In Kaaba Picture as a Misprint Abbas employs the visual language of religion and contemporary acts of devotion to address transformation and individual experience. It is an investigation about the ideas and ideals that are beyond medium and homogenized understanding; an invitation to a personal assignation of value and evocation of memory.