In its first appearance at an art fair, ever, Norte Maar presents “watching the conkers arrive.” Curated by Jason Andrew, Kanad Chakrabarti and Sarah Pettitt the room features a collection of works by seven artists from the UK, Canada and New York, which interrogate language, geography, culture — all involving cross-disciplinary works with abstract grounding, leaving room for reflection on heritage and the borders of experience. SPRING/BREAK Art Show is an internationally recognized exhibition platform using underused, atypical and historic New York City exhibition spaces to activate and challenge the traditional cultural landscape of the art market, typically but not exclusively during Armory Arts Week. The seventh annual fair will be held from March 6th – March 12th, 2018 at 4 Times Square. Tickets
norte maar: watching the conkers arrive | Room #2349
Organized by curator Jason Andrew and artists Kanad Chakrabarti and Sarah Pettitt, “Watching the Conkers Arrive” features the work of seven artists (the majority of whom originate from the UK). The title references the mishearing of a line from the 1953 essay by James Baldwin, “Stranger in a Village”, recounting his experience as a black African man in an all-white Swiss village:
For this village, even were it incomparably more remote and incredibly more primitive, is the West, the West onto which I have been so strangely grafted. … Go back a few centuries and they are in their full glory-but I am in Africa, watching the conquerors arrive.
Baldwin’s elegant and authentic text calls attention to the borders and experiences that define an individual. This extends down to neighborhoods that face economic division and gentrification globally. We watch as new “conquerors” arrive.
Artists in this exhibition explore the notion of borders. We argue that borders manifest themselves most individually in language and biography–in small solecisms and profound histories. Politically, in the contemporary of ‘fake news’ but really dating back to 9/11, we see re-emergent the spectre of the controversial jurist Carl Schmitt’s question: ‘Who is the enemy?’
There are psychological borders that are latently premeditative, ignited through fear-mongering, which annihilate the beauty of individual agency and disturb a collective consciousness. Moreover, the very continent where both Schmitt and Baldwin wrote, itself faces acute political and social tensions as it seeks to reconcile liberal ideals with the pressure of migration across porous borders.
This historical canvas raises, as ever, a question of art’s efficacy. In one reading of art history (vide Arthur Danto) art has exhausted its self-explorative, philosophical mission. Thus we are vexed with the perennial question: ‘What is to be done?’ Art perhaps remains the Outsider sine qua non, reflecting and refracting, howsoever impotently, upon the frailty of collective human condition.
As the ideas for this proposal formulated among us, Jason was drawn to Baldwin’s essay and kept murmuring a line that, through the mis-hearings and slippages of language, became the title, as well as curatorial anchor, for our submission.
Kanad Chakrabarti (London / New York), born in Ranchi, India, pursues a collision between technology, markets and the politics of history. In this installation, he looks at Sicily as a metaphorical omphalos that foregrounds the tension and cultural confrontation that globalisation has wrought. Kanad, an MIT undergrad, received his MA from the Slade School of Fine Art (London), and currently divides his time between London and New York. www.ukc10014.org
Oliver Evans (London, UK) takes and collects photographs, documenting time and place, occurrences and circumstances. His travels have been vast and his collaging of images tells only fragments of a story. Oliver is a graduate of MA Fine Art Media, Slade School of Fine Art (London). He currently lives and works in London, UK. http://oliverandrewevans.com
Sarah Pettitt (UK / New York) simultaneously interrogates beginnings and endings. Her process exists in the space between the visual and the haptic, and steps outside the constraining bounds of language. Her visual antecedents harken to the totem or the votive — objects that, almost ineffably, acquire meaning and presence that transcend their material form. Sarah received her MA in Painting from Slade School of Fine Art (London) and currently divides her time between London and Queens, NY. http://sarahpettitt.co.uk
The ceramic-base work of Robert Raphael (Brooklyn, NY) draws on the complex history of decorative art, a tradition that intersects and runs parallel to the history of art. Decoration is often perceived to be superficial, but he believes its strength lies in its seductive nature and the complex meanings that result when surface, mass, pattern, and cultural history come together. Robert received a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. http://robraphael.com
Composed simply with one continuous calligraphic line, Robert Rivers (London, UK) nose paintings are almost architectural renderings of space–of outside and inside. Grass and straw gathered from walks in the countryside are caught amidst the threads of the embroidered noses, fragments of summer, they disrupt the singular curving line and cross languages of paint, drawing, and collage. Robert currently lives and works in London, UK.
Shaan Syed (London, UK) is interested in asking a question of context and culture: how do established systems of looking relate to how we see anew and how do they influence the way we make, look at and read images now? Primarily through painting, yet also incorporating screen-printing, sound and performance, Syed addresses the conundrum that painting may be at once a process, a reveal and a sign. Shaan currently lives and works in London, UK. http://shaansyed.com
Originating from Detroit, Audra Wolowiec (Brooklyn / Newburgh, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work oscillates between sculpture, installation, text and performance with an emphasis on sound and the material qualities of language. Her poetic sound installations and experimental language scores often use the gap, space, or breath in between speech—not as forms of negation, but as complex generators of meaning. Audra currently divides her time between New York City and Newburgh, NY. https://www.audrawolowiec.com