Igniting a Force: Impromptu Self on Display

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"I think about environments where we go to see and be seen: bars, after parties, gallery openings, the clustering of humans with similar physical traits and unending arrangements of differences. The way we flaunt our appearances while countless thoughts pass through the mind in one moment, and another moment, and then another. The force of the patterns we draw, repeat, follow, and share with one another. The feeling and fear of failure that can be transferred to one another, felt—though sometimes indescribable—and seen physically through posture. Poise. The fact that I can feel empowered by my jewelry and clothes. We contort ourselves; we adorn ourselves—yet we are still so bewitched by our bodies. We constantly obsess over what we are made of and how we can push the limits physically. We ask who we are and we look for ourselves in others, seeking reflections of ourselves."

-Excert from "Igniting a Force: Impromptu Self on Display" by Olivia Smith published October 1, 2013 in NY Arts Magazine

Bernadette Corporation Retouched, 2011. Vinyl banner,108 x 144 in. Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York.


"Site Reading" at A Slender Gamut, Brooklyn, NY

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"Olivia Anne Smith’s Site Reading orbits like an electron. It is a purposeful toss in the
 dark hurtling towards a slippery nucleus. The project takes its cue from nonsensical
 and intuitive Dadaist sensibilities, automatic and blind contour drawing, as well as the
 minimalism of Process art. Its primary materials and actions come from conversational
segues, physical inclinations, and dreams. This is the seemingly plain stuff of experience 
that leads to art-making – made evident here. At its core, Site Reading presents a skeletal
 narrative that revolves around the intersection of individual and shared experience." - Matthew Whitenack

“I throw an inked ball into the walls of a small, unlit room. I do this because I am allowed.
 Word, image, and action are suddenly indistinguishable.

In the light the gesture is visible. It asks questions. It exposes patterns based on and 
concerning the space made for art and its limits. My answer is yes.

For the opening performance of Site Reading, I will assemble a vocal performance constructed from the drawing. By creating an arrangement based on a chance operation, I attempt to ‘learn’ the conditions I have created.

Though this experience prevents immediate understanding, it will create a “situationally 
literate” group who approach the drawing as something to be read and ask repetition to
facilitate understanding and shape experience.

In this case, a drawing is something to be done to a wall inside the site of display, 
platform for performance, and exclusive container of art. A drawing is something to be
en acted through the ritual of facing a wall and by referencing the activity of reading wall 
texts in museums and historical sites.

This exhibition investigates the questions: When does an object, mark, or gesture
 become legible? At what point does our critical eye and ear determine our literacy? I am 
interested in what comes “in through our eyes and out through our mouths,”specifically
 when human perceptions, shared audibly, become judged as part of identity.”

Olivia has invited composers Constance Cooper and Gregory Van Acker to collaborate and perform Site Reading at the opening on Sunday, September 23 at 7pm.

Gregory Van Acker is a performer and vocalist who has appeared in national tours, regional and New York stage productions, and on television. He is a founding member of the political musical comedy trio Running Amuck, as well as a novelist, poet, lyricist, and occasional guest writer for The Fabulous Apple blog site.  He also works as a visual artist in the mediums of paint, clay and paper sculpture. A proud resident of NYC for the past decade, he is always happy to lend his body and voice to new and exciting projects.

Constance Cooper, composer, pianist, and vocalist, received her doctorate in composition from Princeton University in 2003 jointly for her opera Easter Eve and for her dissertation about Leoŝ Janáček. She won first prize in the Gustav Mahler Competition (Austria) for Acrobat, her concerto for improvising violinist and cellist with chamber orchestra, and was a semi-finalist in the Queen Elisabeth Competition of 1999 for her piano concerto Carinthia.  Miss Cooper has appeared as composer, pianist, and singer at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Kitchen, the Krannert Center of the University of Illinois, the Boston Conservatory, and with the Princeton University Composers Ensemble, Continuum, North-South Consonance, and the American Microtonal Festival. She gave the Canadian premiere of Charles Wuorinen's "Piano Sonata (1969)" and the "hometown" premiere of Charles Ives' Concord Sonata in Concord, Massachusetts. She is a founding member of the improvising avant-garde trio Chemical Composition. Her suite for organ, synthesizer, and improvising acoustic bass Repaying Sin-Driven Senators by Not Thinking About Them, completed during a 2002 residency at ArtOMI, was premiered at Saint Peter's Church, New York. Her Divertimento for String Quartet is available on the Princeton CD label and her Etudes for Solo Piano were recorded by her and released in 2009.



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