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Playing the Game: An Interview with Jomar Statkun

By Raphael Rubinstein



 

Fans of Jomar Statkun’s work might want to make repeated visits to his first New York solo show “Project 0014,” at Garis & Hahn gallery on Bowery. The exhibition (Jan. 19-Feb. 23) is divided into five “presentations,” ranging from a day devoted to an elaborate board game about the art world to a long-distance collaboration with a Chinese painting reproduction factory.
 

As part of the nomadic collective This Red Door (currently in residence at Kunsthalle Galapagos in Dumbo), Statkun has championed participatory art. In his own multilayered work he constantly foregrounds the material conditions of art (making, showing and selling it), often with sharp critiques lurking beneath the user-friendly facade.
 

The artist conversed with A.i.A. via e-mail about his upcoming show:
 

RAPHAEL RUBINSTEIN Your exhibition at Garis & Hahn is unusual in many ways. As I understand it, the show will begin with all the art in the basement, and the ground floor gallery will be completely empty. Gradually artworks will migrate upstairs, filling up the space. This sounds like how This Red Door runs its residencies. For you, why is it important to start with an empty space?


JOMAR STATKUN I use the idea of empty in the description of the show almost as an attempt to suggest the opposite. When people visit the space, it will be filled with me, and them, their expectations, ideas, questions and answers. One aspect of This Red Door for me (and cofounders Jared Friedman and Christopher Stackhouse) is how the idea of “filling” something can lead to fundamental questions. Why be an artist? Why “make” something? Why fill something or someplace with anything?
 

RUBINSTEIN One part of the show involves L’artisan, a board game about the art world that you have adapted from the popular German board game Carcassonne, in which players compete to occupy and develop land and cities. What inspired you to translate the art world into a board game?


STATKUN Well, the art world (if you choose to play) can be a brutal place, and in this game it gets even more brutal—there is only one winner. There are at least a few winners in the real art world. However, with the game, you can play more than once. By transposing the game into an art world setting, it almost becomes a learning tool for an artist to navigate a career path. Players take on the role of artists and place their works in graduate schools, galleries, art fairs, museums and along collector’s paths. They use their artwork to gain points in accumulating cultural capital and resources, such as a MacArthur grant or exhibition catalogues. The use of critics and curators helps to increase opportunities in the game. As the name of the game suggests, it was handmade (by me). There are pieces made of clay, tiles manipulated and cut, a wooden box to contain the pieces. As a cerebral and strategic, chesslike game, it was important for me to craft all of its objects. Duchamp is pictured on the cover, smoking his pipe and looking over the pieces of L’artisan, as if he were studying his next move. I suppose it could be seen as a game about Duchamp and how the rest of us are continuing a game he started.


RUBINSTEIN You will be taking on multiple roles during your show, as artist, of course, but also as curator, dealer and art handler. You seem to be following Martin Kippenberger’s model of the “full-service artist,” assuming responsibility for all the aspects of exhibiting your work. (Actually, I think you are taking it further than Kippenberger did.) Why is doing this important to you?


STATKUN I think the experience of a “piece of art” goes well beyond simply considering how it was made. Think of an artwork like a child, your own child. At first, it is a baby, innocent and new to the world. It’s in your hands to make decisions about how it will grow and learn: What is right?, What is wrong?, What’s important?, What is to be feared? It’s up to you (the artist) to determine the way the artwork, fresh out of the womb, develops or enters the world, what situations it will be placed in. So, with this idea, essentially at the beginning of an artwork’s life, you are in charge of its handling, curation, dealings, babysitters, etc.


RUBINSTEIN For several years you’ve been working with a painting reproduction factory in China, having the workers/artists there make paintings for you. How are the Chinese painters going to be involved in this show?


STATKUN We’ve developed a curious relationship, a kind of collaboration of sorts. They have painted portraits of themselves for performances that I’ve had. I’ve asked them to paint anything they would like to make at a particular size. For this show, I took photographs of the empty gallery. In the photos, I blackened an area on the walls where artworks might hang. I sent these images to China and asked the painters to make paintings of the gallery space and insert depictions of their own canvases as if they were hanging on the walls. We’ll see what happens.


RUBINSTEIN The press release for your show says that the last week will be “devoted to criticism.” As a critic, I’m of course curious about how you are going to engage criticism. Does your multitasking extend to reviewing your own show?


STATKUN I love that idea. I guess the reason I left it for the last is that I’m not sure myself what a week “devoted to criticism” could mean.

Link to article:

Total Service Artists

By Raphael Rubinstein

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In this article I will look at eight artists whose work involves some aspect of total service or self-historicization; I will also touch on the role of several artist-run exhibition spaces on New York’s Lower East Side. Each of the artists I discuss inhabits a specific situation, acts in response to specific conditions. For Cavellini, it was, in part, the challenge of being perceived as a collector rather than an artist, and perhaps also living in a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure for modern and contemporary art. Kippenberger, at the outset of his career, needed to distinguish himself from other Berlin artists still wallowing in stoned ’70s subjectivity, and then labored under an increasing sense that he didn’t have much time on this earth. Mark Flood has emerged in a city (Houston) where the only avenue to having a contemporary art context was to create it yourself. Jomar Statkun’s interactive approach to a gallery show is influenced by his experiences as part of the art collective This Red Door. Looking for an alternative to the dandyism and negation embraced by some other painters of her generation, R.H. Quaytman finds herself affected by the particulars of her family history. David Diao offers his own career as a test case for how artists can get written out of art history and write themselves back into it. Adrian Piper felt the urgency of wanting to “set a minimum standard of respectful treatment of the work of African-American women artists, below which no critical review would dare to sink.”  Loren Munk is inspired to bring recognition to the forgotten and marginalized artists of New York, and, as a self-described college dropout, to pursue what he calls a “self-directed educational program.” As will be seen, these artists are not linked by style or medium. What they share, rather, are certain ways of being in the world—and being against it.



While the Lower East Side is now dense with galleries, including many that are well funded and pursue market success without apology or nuance, and certainly without appeals to Theodor Adorno or Virno, the neighborhood can still occasionally be the site of exhibitions that seek to underscore the mechanisms of the gallery system. Consider, for instance, Jomar Statkun’s 2014 solo show at Garis & Hahn on the Bowery. As the show began, Statkun, a New York-based artist who is also a founder of the nomadic collective This Red Door, deposited every artwork from his studio in the gallery’s basement, leaving the main ground-floor space empty. Over the course of the month-long show Statkun organized weekly “decorations” that gradually filled up the main space. Visitors to the gallery were invited to descend to the basement where they could pull paintings out of the racks to examine them. Throughout the show, according to the press release, the artist was “available to discuss the work, pricing options and possible installation of the work into the exhibition.” He worked as art handler, curator, dealer and artist, not privileging one task over any other. In the dealer role—donning a suit jacket for discussions with prospective buyers and referring to “the artist” in the third person—he set prices according to his feelings about people. He’d choose an absurdly high amount for those who flaunted their power as collectors (and usually didn’t make a purchase), and a more reasonable price for friends and acquaintances (who often did buy). One of his most interesting encounters, he says, was with a class from Hunter College.

When I asked Statkun why he felt it important to be involved with what happened to his paintings after he made them, he explained by comparing an artwork to an infant. “As your child comes into being, it’s a baby, innocent and new to the world. It’s in your hands to make the decisions on how to allow it to grow and learn. . . . You are in charge of its handling, curation, dealings, babysitters, etc.”  More recently, Statkun told me that the Garis & Hahn show “put to rest a lot of the curiosities I still had about what my role might be” in the commercial gallery system. Spending a month as his own gallerist left him wanting, more than anything else, to create “more and different systems.”  Even the most extreme forms of “total service,” Statkun seems to conclude, can’t seriously disturb the art market’s structure. For now, he has immersed himself more fully in the activities of This Red Door, setting up temporary venues for performances and public interactions in various cities (most recently Hamburg and Amsterdam).

Link to full article:

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Art Dealer Ordered to Pay $500 a Day to Artist

The artist claims the gallery chopped off 10 inches from his painting.

 by Eileen Kinsella

The painting was sold for $16,000 in August 11 2010, according to the complaint. Two years later, Statkun claims he learned from a former employee of the gallery that  “approximately 10 inches were cropped from Tubal Cain at Beggar’s Creek, without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent,” according to court papers. A copy of the invoice is attached to the suit, noting the new dimensions of the painting as 50 inches by 72 inches.

In addition to the VARA violation, the artist made claims for violation of the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, breach of contract, fraud, and defamation. He was asking for statutory damages in the amount of $150,000.

However the judge, deciding on a motion for default judgment, awarded $3,500 plus attorney’s fees, noting that “the dimunition in the size of the canvas was less than enormous. It had the effect of permitting the sale, at a substantial price, of a canvas that had not sold for an extended period.” Kaplan wrote that while the court did not want to “trivialize” the violation of Statkun’s rights, it saw “no reason to provide the artist with a windfall at the expense of the gallery.”

Link to full article:

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A not-so-good day: At a party two years later, Statkun met a former employee of the gallery who told him that the gallery facilitated that sale by cropping 10 inches off the painting to suit the space needs of the collector. The painting’s dimensions were now 50” x 72”. Emails between the gallery owner and the painting’s buyer revealed that Grunert offered to trim the original painting to a size more suitable to the buyer, and the dealer claimed to have spoken about that plan with Statkun and that the artist was content with her doing so. That $8,000 was still welcome, but the artist saw that his painting had been mutilated, a violation of the 1990 amendment to the U.S. Copyright Law, known as the Visual Artists Rights Act, which allows living artists to protect their artwork from “intentional distortions, mutilation or modification… that would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation.” Almost three years to the day after that sale, Statkun brought a VARA lawsuit against the gallery owner, asking $20,000 for compensatory damages and $150,000 for statutory damages as permitted under the law.

Link to full article:

Dramatization -Reenactment video
of this case & the story of the Cut Painting:

Garis & Hahn Presents
Jomar Statkun’s ‘Banal Zone’

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Co-directors Mary Garis and Sophie Hahn, with Lynda Erickson, will curate a weeklong “show within a show” from a series of Statkun’s paintings based on Richard Prince’s disputed Canal Zone series — and other Prince-related subject matter — which were commissioned by Statkun and produced by a Chinese painting factory. The action is meant to explore issues of appropriation, outsourcing, and contemporary artist practices, which can mean an artist never physically touches their work.

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Jomar Statkun is an exhibition of the artist’s complete work to date presented in five weeklong arrangements curated through a thematic series of performative “Presentations.” At the start of each new week, the artist’s archived collection will be stored in the gallery’s downstairs space, leaving the upstairs empty until work is introduced through a weekly “decoration” that will slowly transform the main gallery space into a unique exhibition.

Through participatory action, visitors will be invited to the basement Public Viewing Room to interact with the artist as well as look at, examine, and handle the works of art. A new prompt, interaction, game, or activity, which addresses a “Presentation,” will be introduced on a weekly basis throughout the duration of the exhibition (a total of five weeks). “Banal Zone” is the fourth in the installment of five “Presentations.” A history of these weekly exhibitions or, “decorations,” will remain on the upstairs gallery walls in varying forms of reproductions. Throughout the exhibition, Jomar Statkun will assume the roles of art handler, curator, dealer, and artist on a daily basis.

Link to article:

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Who Owns This Image?

By Ben Mauk

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Sometimes, though, an artist’s act of appropriation is not only fair but cosmically just. On Tuesday, Richard Prince retweeted a since-deleted image of a painting of one of the “Canal Zone” collages. The painting is part of a new series, “Banal Zone,” commissioned by the artist Jomar Statkun and produced in a Chinese painting factory. “That’s not my painting,” Prince later tweeted. “That’s someone else’s painting of one of my paintings. They should sell this to Cariou’s lawyer.”

Link to article:

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Garis & Hahn is pleased to present Jomar Statkun, an exhibition of the artist’s complete work to date. The collection will be installed in the gallery's downstairs space, leaving the upstairs empty until work is introduced through weekly “decorations” that will slowly transform the main space. Through participation and performance, visitors will be invited to the basement “Public Viewing Room” to interact with the artist as well as look at, examine, and handle the works of art. This marks the gallery’s first solo show by an exhibiting artist. An opening reception will be held on January 19th, 2014 from 6 to 8 PM at Garis & Hahn (263 Bowery), to be followed by a weekly roster of programming developed around Statkun’s work.

At the start of the exhibition, the gallery's upstairs space will be empty. As a result of various prompts, interactions, games, and activities, the upstairs will be gradually “decorated” with works from the collection that reside in the basement. A new prompt, interaction, game, or activity, which addresses a 'Presentation,' will be introduced on select days throughout the duration of the exhibition (a total of 5 weeks). A history of these weekly “decorations” will remain on the upstairs gallery walls in varying forms of reproductions. Throughout the exhibition Jomar Statkun will assume the roles of art handler, curator, dealer, and artist on a daily basis.


The 'Presentations’ will include:

“Art Presence: A Buyer's Feathers”
(Reception: Sunday, January 19th from 6 – 8 PM)

The opening week will be solely dedicated to the artworks that are sold during that week.  For any interested buyers, Jomar Statkun will be available to discuss the work, pricing options, and possible installation of the work into the exhibition. Naturally, a form of “Art Presence:  A Buyer's Feathers” will continue throughout the duration of the exhibition.

“Players: An Artist Ready to Retire”
(Performance:  Sunday, January 26th, starts at 5 PM)

L'artisan is a game created by Jomar Statkun. It is based on the German board game, Carcassonne, in which players compete to occupy and complete cities, roads and farmland.  For L'artisan, Statkun has remade all the pieces by hand (114 gaming tiles, game board pieces, and a wooden box that houses the complete game) and transformed the structure and objective of the game to navigating the “Art World” - cities are now galleries, roads are paths of collectors, and farmland is cultural capital.  During the game, the players take on the role of artists, and the pieces they use on the board represent their artwork.  At the beginning of the week, a game of L'artisan will be played by a select group of individuals who, by playing the game, will win opportunities to choose their favorite Jomar Statkun artworks from the basement and have them installed into the exhibition in the upstairs gallery space wherever they choose.  Following this opening game, L'artisan will be on view at the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.

“Labor of Love: A Fabricator's Hamburger Helper”
(Reception: Sunday, February 2nd from 6 – 8 PM)

A number of works by Jomar Statkun have been made in collaboration with a painting reproduction factory in China.  During this week, through an exchange and collaboration, the painters in China will be invited to insert “their own” paintings into the exhibition in the upstairs gallery space.

“Think Inside of the Box: A Gallery's Gallery”
(Reception:  Sunday, February 9th from 6 – 8 PM)

Mary Garis and Sophie Hahn from Garis & Hahn gallery will be invited to select Jomar Statkun artworks from the basement and have them installed into the exhibition in the upstairs gallery space.

“Take it to be Framed: A Critic's Tail”
(Sunday, February 16th - Sunday, February 23rd)

A week dedicated to criticism.

Link:

Mike Cloud/Jomar Statkun: Entry 1 TBR Blog

By Christopher Stackhouse

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Jomar Statkun, also first and foremost a painter and printer, has several projects networked into a treatment of world history and art history. He has a gorgeous on going series of prints, drawings, paintings, and installations created for a body of work called “Defect Today”. In a sequence of this production are depictions of scenes with some real and some fabled heroes from the Phillipine-American War. The title of this study on this historic battle for Filipino independence is in part inspired by a Black American soldier/infantryman David Fagen who defected from the American forces sent to the Phillipines, and fought bravely and quite effectively with the Filipino Army. There is text accompanying, and, interwoven throughout the recreation of that event in art objects, some of which is appropriated or re-purposed from Mark Twain’s Anti-Imperialist Writing on this particular war and occupation. Part of Statkun’s engagement with painting and art making is an aggressive articulation of metaphor, and analogic analysis of global political, historical phenomena, contemporary society and its circumstances. When visiting his studio in preparation to start work on a piece about an installation of the artist’s to be mounted in Berlin, Germany last month, he showed me a striking abstract painting made after Turner’s “The Slave Ship”. Turner’s painting was originally inspired by the Zong Massacre of 1781, thus Statkun entitled his version with further attribution and acknowledgment “Zong”. In looking at that painting we discussed Tom Feelings’ “Middle Passage Drawings“, work with which he is also very familiar. Speaking of the sacred nature of such efforts, we discussed Feelings’ drawings in relation to Goya‘s “Caprichos”, his “Disasters of War”, also, two paintings “The Second of May, 1808, At Madrid” and “The Third of May, 1808, At Madrid: The Shootings On Principe Pio Mountain.” Seriality, drawing and printing, narrativity, historicity, the radicalization of myth, and spiritual investment in art are important facets of Jomar’s practice, and remind me of one of my favorite artists always to consider William Blake.

 

The studio visit, subsequent conversations, and an interest in situating his installation, then to be set up at the Tape Modern in Berlin, for an Andy Warhol themed show called “In fifteen minutes everybody will be famous-Tape Modern No.15”, produced an essay on the artist’s project.

An excerpt from, “Regarding Jomar Statkun’s – The Golden Cast”:

Statkun’s golden replica…..advances arguments that challenge participants in the art market system to reevaluate its habits and reasoning. This is a systematic appeal toward giving an appraisal of the relationship between market value and spiritual value. He is committing a self-imposed diagnostic reach into the heart of a human problem. For artists, the test is to look at the psychological and emotional implications of turning inspiration, tradition, belief, and creative life practice into fodder for human capital, turning the arena of cultural production into pure marketplace. Beyond the theoretical aspects, there is the actual physical object upon which he has chosen to center feelings and discussion – a gold colored infused plastic sculpture of his own painting. The cast model of this painting reproduces not only the surface of the painting, but the texture of the unpainted sides of the original canvas, the indentations from, and heads of, the staples securing that canvas to the support. Here, metaphorically speaking, process and materials are representative notions, spheres, into which a viewer can look and openly find traces of effort and decision making. A history in art and painting temporarily stabilized, its causes preserved.

Link to article:

In Fifteen Minutes Everybody Will Be Famous

Tape Modern | Berlin, Germany, 2010
Co-curated with Anna Erickson
Artists:
ASSUME VIVID ASTRO FOCUS, AWST & WALTHER, AMIR FATTAL, BRUCE La BRUCE, DAN and GEO FUCHS, DAN COLEN, DASH SNOW, DAVID LEVINE, DOUGLAS GORDON, THOMAS ELLER, ERIC DOERINGER, FRIEDERIKE HAMAN, JOHN ISAACS, JOMAR STATKUN, MARCEL BUEHLER, PETE WHEELER, SSCION, TERENCE KOH, XOOOOX, ZHIVAGO DUNCAN

Warhol’s fascination with fame inspired not only his portraits of movie stars and socialites, but also his controversial depiction of the Chinese Communist Leader Mao. In true Warholian fashion, the artist created wallpaper comprised entirely of multiples of Mao’s portrait. Warhol became known for this manner of repetition, as seen in his works 100 Coke Bottles, 100 Soup Cans and 100 Dollar Bills, among others. Integrating Warhol’s use of wallpaper, his style of image multiplication and a 1982 photo of the artist taken in front of Mao’s portrait in China’s Tian'anmen Square, Jomar Statkun’s work The Golden Cast recreates this photograph with himself in Warhol’s place as the basis for his own wallpaper. The juxtaposition of the original photo of Warhol andStatkun’s self-portrait, as well as Mao’s symbolic presence, revives Warhol’s original wallpaper work with Statkun’s contemporary practice.

- Curated by Anna Erickson and Emilie Trice

Link:

Press release:

Incident No. 49: Jomar Statkun

Portable Viewing of the Chinese Painting 

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*FOR A LIMITED TIME*: PAINTINGS ON SALE FOR ONLY:
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$99.00 !!!!
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(plus shipping + handling)
(*each painting is made by hand - in this unique edition, slight variations may occur)

The Portable Viewing Station for:  THE CHINESE PAINTING

1.  An original abstract oil on canvas is painted by the artist Jomar Statkun.


2.  A photograph is taken of the abstract painting using an image analyzing program.  The program analyzes the abstract painting and tries to find its image on the internet.
 

3.  As the program naturally cannot find the exact image of the abstract painting, it proposes similar images based on color, composition, texture, and other visual data.
 

4. These proposed images are collected along with their accompanying websites.
 

5.  A selection of the proposed images are then emailed to an oil painting reproduction factory in Xiamen City, Fujian Province, China.  There the proposed images are made into hand painted oil on canvas reproductions.
 

6.  These oil on canvas reproductions along with the original abstract painting are displayed on a portable viewing station.
 

7.  The viewing station is taken around the city of Hudson, focusing on a “promotional plan.”  A promotional plan can have a wide range of objectives, including:  sales increases, new product acceptance, creation of brand equity, positioning, competitive retaliations, or creation of a corporate image.
 

8.  When not mobile The Portable Viewing Station for THE CHINESE PAINTING will be on view in the storefront windows of 348 Warren Street in Hudson, New York at the Incident Report Viewing Station.
 

9.  For inquiries please email: thechinesepainting@gmail.com