Vox Populi is pleased to present New Members Show, the group exhibition debut of artists and curators who joined Vox Populi in 2016. The presentation is a collection of site-specific and temporary projects by the seven new members: Christopher Gianunzio, Sascha Hughes-Caley, Tina Plokarz, Imani Roach, Lane Speidel, Jim Strong and Mina Zarfsaz.
Representing the range of work and practices present in New Members Show, the exhibition will feature twelve separate events and performances. Dates and times below. More info at the links.
Opening Reception and Performances by Lane Speidel, and Sascha Hughes-Caley and Imani Roach beginning at 7:30pm
Gentle Sheers X Ramp Local, organized by Jim Strong 8pm
Gentle Sheers Presents, organized by Jim Strong 8pm
Gentle Sheers Presents, organized by Jim Strong 8pm
X-Medium: panel discussion with Ulises, moderated by Mina Zarfsaz 7pm
Pitch karaoke hour with Sascha Hughes-Caley and Imani Roach 8pm
Voice into Sound: an evening of readings and performances,curated by Tina Plokarz + Jim Strong 8pm
With Jane Carver (voice+sound), FISH SONGS (voice+movement), Shaina Kapeluck (voice+stories), 21st Century Band (voice+phone), and Jacob Brunner (poem)
Gallery Talk with Kelli Morgan (Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Fine Arts, PAFA) 4pm
Gentle Sheers and All Mutable present 8pm
Pitch, Sascha Hughes-Caley and Imani Roach 4pm
About the members projects and work
Christopher Gianunzio’s curatorial projects focus around photography, artist books and other forms of printed material that interrogate the plasticity of the image and its representational potentials. For the new members exhibition, Gianunzio will be presenting works by Dru Donovan and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, who engage photography as a means to discuss history, politics and cultural memory. This curatorial gesture is drawn from two bodies of work, Positions Taken and All My Gone Life, which address the complex social and political conditions under which images are made and disseminated.
Christopher Gianunzio is an artist and curator living and working in Philadelphia. He received his BFA from Central Washington University and his MFA from Syracuse University. He has organized exhibitions including the work of Lucas Blalock, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, La Toya Ruby Frazier, Jason Fulford, Beate Gütschow, Greg Halpern, Whitney Hubbs, Christian Patterson, Taryn Simon, Carmen Winant and Ofer Wolberger. He has previously held positions as the Director of the Art Gallery and the Sarnoff Collection at the College of New Jersey and the Exhibitions and Programming Director of the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center where he founded the Philadelphia Art Book Fair.
Dru Donovan received a BFA from California College of the Arts in 2004 and an MFA from Yale School of Art in 2009. Donovan’s work has shown nationally and internationally and was included in reGeneration2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in the 2010 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. She has been included in group shows at Fraenkel Gallery, Yancey Richardson Gallery, Brancolini Grimaldiand, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and a solo show at Hap Gallery. Donovan’s photographs have been published in Aperture Magazine, Blind Spot, Picture Magazine, Matte Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and Vice. Her work is in the collections of Deutsche Bank and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2011 TBW Books published her first book, Lifting Water. In 2011-2012 she participated in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace studio residency. Awards Donovan has received are the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship in 2015 and is a 2016-2017 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow.
Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa is a photographer, writer, and editor of The Great Leap Sideways. He has contributed essays to catalogues and monographs by Vanessa Winship, George Georgiou, and Paul Graham, written for Aperture magazine, and is a faculty member in the photography department at Purchase College, SUNY. Wolukau-Wanambwa participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in May 2015.
With Pitch Sascha Hughes-Caley and Imani Roach present a collaborative experiment in the performance of desperation at a moment of personal and national crisis. Pitch exposes our most fundamental shared truths and individual desires to the logic of the reality TV judging panel. Over the course of the exhibition, this installation, which draws from a range of visual and sonic texts, will be activated to more closely consider the convergence of power structures both imaginary and authentic.
One of the most salient aspects of the current crisis is the widespread policing of black emotion and the pervasive notion that it is always-already in excess (and therefore in need of forceful containment). In that context, Imani Roach produces figural work, both static and performative, that explores the nuances of the black emotional landscape under surveillance. Other perennial obsessions include vulnerability and entitlement practices in urban space, gender and the public/private divide, and aging bodies in the American imaginary. She typically sources image fragments from mass culture and filters them through decidedly labor-intensive craft techniques.
In addition to her work at Vox Populi, she is a co-founder of The Lonely Painter Project a bi-coastal, interdisciplinary performance collaborative. A native Ohioan, she did her undergraduate work at Stanford, where she studied both Art History and Architectural Design. Imani is currently an instructor at University of the Arts, a senior editor at Guernica Magazine, and a doctoral candidate at Harvard, writing on the first generation of black South African photojournalists under Apartheid. She also performs regularly as a vocalist in the grand African American traditions of jazz, folk and classic soul.
“For better or worse, acting is universal. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock: We all prepare faces to meet the faces that we meet. If acting or the creation of persona exists to ease social interactions, I wonder if we might all fall apart without it. What happens when a mask traps it’s wearer, eclipsing one’s true self? Are we in control of the life we are leading, or does it occasionally run away with us? As an artist who pulls from her background in theater often, I find myself extra appreciative of this professional predicament. I work within and against traditions in performance and video. I believe a camera’s close attention to an action or event can animate performance in the toughest and deepest way.”
Sascha Hughes-Caley is an interdisciplinary artist whose primary artistic concerns are centered on conversations around gender, wellness, and triumphalism. Also trained as an actor, she is particularly interested in playing with the notion of rehearsal and the potential it has for flattening the language around our experiences. Often borrowing from comedic genres and practices in film and television, she works to address bigger, darker themes of shame and power. Hughes-Caley holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Pennsylvania, a certificate in Acting for Film and Television from the Vancouver Film School, and a BA in Studio Art and Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her work has been exhibited, performed, and screened in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and India. Hughes-Caley has performed at the Comedy Store, Hollywood Improv, and on MTV. In 2016 she was awarded a residency with Brett Bailey at FringeArts in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to Vox Populi, Hughes-Caley is an active collaborator with the Bangalore-based activist performance collective, Blank Noise. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
“Saeculum: Theatrical Collectivity in Philadelphia, 1915-1917” is an archival exploration of Philadelphia’s Artists’ Masques – a series of citywide performances in music, light, dance and costume and masque balls held in 1915, 1916 and 1917. In historic photographs, magazine articles, newspaper clipping, and sounds, Tina Plokarz reconstructs this theatrical sensation from its rise to its unfortunate termination while tracing the involvement of women artists in a collective practice across Philadelphia’s cultural landscape. In a chronological yet fragmentary display, the project blends records from the annual “Rabbit” masquerade at The Plastic Club of Philadelphia (one of the first women’s-only art clubs in the US) with questions about collective effort and traditional academic professionalization in fine arts and craft. As a joint labor of seven leading arts institutions, the Artists’ Masques emerged in the context of a broader international avant-garde theater movement. “Saeculum” salvages fragments of cooperative ideas for the 21th century while highlighting the relevance of women artists and their professionalization in the first decades of the 20th century. With special thanks to Woodcock Archives of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Plastic Club of Philadelphia.
Tina Plokarz is a curator and writer living and working in Philadelphia. Interested in the intersection between visual and dramatic arts, Plokarz traces artistic practices that challenge the human understanding of spatiality, participation and perception in the context of historical and cultural realities. She currently is Assistant Curator at Philadelphia Contemporary, a multi-disciplinary platform for visual and performance art. Before relocating to the US from Germany she worked on curatorial and research projects at a variety of international institutions, including the KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Villa Merkel (Esslingen) and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin). She received a double major in Art History and Theater Studies from the Free University Berlin, Germany.
I make things to try to convince myself that I am special, but I have to convince myself that I am special in order to make things.
When you have someone who loves you, here are some questions you should ask:
Am I a good person?
Do you think that I’m nice?
When did you think I was special?
Are you ever concerned about my motives?
Do you think that I could get my own coffee table book someday?
Do you think I’ll go away?
Do I exist?
Am I cute?
Someone gave me an object that he was finished with. He said, “I’ve been trying to make art out of this for one year.”
I couldn’t sleep because the moon was yelling at me.
Too much sleep! You should be reading!
I blinked and said I’m tired
Growing brighter and louder she shivers
That’s life! You’re a grown up now! Life sucks!
Sitting up in bed, I scratch up and down the inside of each arm.
What are you doing with your time! What about the internship I emailed you about?
With a slip of light the moon is banging against my window.
Grad School?! Why don’t you visit more…
I put my hand on the outline of her face.
Because you live so far away.
Everybody has interests.
I want to be good because I am good.
I need my hypocrisy and my dignity.
I want to be happy.
Awareness of my hypocrisy makes my failures more intentional.
With you watching, this might be different.
I want to be a good artist.
I want to be a good person.
Jim Strong‘s work explores a broad range of activity with a focus on experimental instrument building, painting, improvised performance, cross-disciplinary collaborations and curation. The Work chosen for this installation is concentrated from multiple points among this praxis – across modes and media; Strong’s work finds its home in incongruence; between the comedic and the grotesque; the domestic and the extraterrestrial.
Included are paintings made with Strong’s technique of cultivating and casting film residue from evaporations – transmuting in vivid color the forms of 3-Dimensional Topographies into 2-Dimensional imprint; a tableau for splintering reference and simultaneous story.
Strong will be curating multiple performances across the exhibitions duration mostly under his multi-media event series Gentle Sheers; Performing often with Philadelphia poet, Mel Bentley and releasing a chapbook as their performance/art group, Fish Songs.
Mina Zarfsaz’ videos and sculptures explore the nature of perception and the organization of the everyday in the world around us. She incorporates physical mirroring effects or green screen (chroma key) as common metaphors for the mechanics of perception, testing one’s understanding of their physical surroundings, and thereby questioning the constant shift between the dematerialized and the material.
Mina Zarfsaz is an internationally known designer and interdisciplinary artist who works across the fields of art, architecture and design. Her work seeks to invert common tools and social control to create dialogue, exchange critical perspective, generate questions and ideally inspire a better understanding of what we perceive as reality and its representations.
Zarfsaz has attended Pratt Institute and received her MFA from Montclair State University. She holds a BFA from State University of New York, a BA in Business Administration from University of Alzahra and an Interior Design Certificate from Tehran University. Zarfsaz currently teaches at Montclair State University, Temple University, and Rowan University.
Zarfsaz has lectured at many institutions, published internationally and her work has been shown in galleries across New York: Magnan Metz Gallery, Broadway Gallery, Times Square Museum, and New York State Museum to name a few. Her work is also featured in Artslant, NY Arts Magazine. Recently, Zarfsaz has joined the art collective Vox Populi in Philadelphia as a member and board of directors’ member representative. At Vox she focuses on education and exhibition programming.
Gallery Talk moderated by Kelli Morgan—The Winston & Carolyn Lowe Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Fine Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)