Cultural Transference

EFA Project Space, New York

June 11, 2012

June 16–July 27, 2012

Opening: Friday, June 15, 6–8pm
Panel discussion: Thursday, June 21, 6:30pm

EFA Project Space
323 West 39th Street, 2nd floor
Summer hours:
June: Wed–Sat, 12–6pm
July: Wed–Fri, 12–6pm

T 212 563 5855 x 244
projectspace [​at​]

Artists: Firelei Baez, Matthew Cowan, Hubert Czerepok, Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Pablo Helguera, Christopher K. Ho, Yoko Inoue, LoVid, Umesh Maddanahalli, Dread Scott and Kyle Goen, Allison Smith, Juliana Irene Smith, Shinique Smith, and Elisabeth Smolarz.

Curator: Sara Reisman

Cultural Transference presents recent artwork by international and New York-based artists whose practices engage with the transformation of culture in contemporary art and life. Through transactions and exchanges—social, spiritual, economic, and political—artworks featured in the exhibition express how cultural practice is changing and being changed by its context. Depending on the mobility of those who produce culture and those who consume it, the transmission of culture can move quickly or slowly through space and time.

The exhibition features video, sculpture, performance, installation, collage, and craft-based projects by artists who draw from a variety of cultural references and geographies. Together, the artists’ projects communicate the areas where cultures and cultural production mutate, are appropriated, and remixed resulting in experiences that push against stereotypes, suggesting new cultural traditions.

There are several aesthetic and conceptual parallels and intersections amongst the artists’ processes. Through their use of collage techniques Firelei Baez, Shinique Smith, and Yoko Inoue convey the layering of identification that occurs in contemporary life.

Hubert Czerepok’s light installation questions the stability of ideological symbols and positions, while LoVid’s video objects and digitally produced textiles blur visual information into what might be considered neo-folk. Allison Smith and Matthew Cowan have long explored folk traditions through artistic means: performance, sculpture, video, craft, and other ephemera. Cowan’s projects highlight the peculiarity of long practiced customs, while Smith’s recent collages examine the fetishization of patriotic objects. In a related vein, Pablo Helguera has long focused on the preservation of cultural traditions and languages on the verge of disappearance.

Works by Christopher K. Ho and Elisabeth Smolarz consider the nature of labor in relation to geographic location. Highlighting the gaps between the creative and working classes, their works reflect on how the location of production informs its value in the greater economy.

Of course, there are times when cultural exchange is met with resistance. Dread Scott and Kyle Goen’s recent performance United We Stand Stand challenges post 9/11 patriotism in New York City through the sale of nationalistic souvenirs, questioning the United States’ occupation of countries in the Middle East. Umesh Maddanahalli and Juliana Irene Smith both offer more specific narratives which highlight cultural boundaries. Smith repurposes the prescient narrative associated with Mark Twain’s literary excursion to the Holy Land, and Maddanahalli’s project humorously examines how national identification might play out in private life.

Nicolas Dumit Estevez’s Born Again is a community-engaged, performative act of becoming. In 2011, he set out on a journey through various community spaces in the Bronx, culminating in being born again as a native Bronxite in a ritual along the banks of the Bronx River. Estevez’s project demonstrates that transformation is possible, so long as it is not imposed by external forces.

Panel discussion
Thursday, June 21, 6:30–8:30pm
Turning the World is a conversation between artists Firelei Baez, Hubert Czerepok, Dread Scott, and Juliana Irene Smith, whose vastly different practices examine how culture and cultural production are continually being challenged and transformed. Moderated by curator Sara Reisman.

EFA Project Space, a program of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Private funding for the program has been received from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Support for Cultural Transference has been provided by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.