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Octet: Selected Works from the School of Visual Arts, New York

Curated by Suzanne Anker, Peter Hristoff

13 August - 04 October 2009


Selected Works from the School of Visual Arts, was an exhibition of 111 artworks, which showcased painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and the digital arts, created by faculty, alumni and students of the Fine Arts Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Octet exhibited an amalgam of diverse threads operating within an international cultural platform enabling a platform for the discussion of current issues. The exhibition consisted of eight categories describing contemporary visual art: Word As Image, Post-Pop and Tabloid, Material Matters, The Corporeal and the Divine, World Dramas, Narrative Imperatives, Relational Aesthetics and Identity and Identity Politics.

The selection of work exhibited in Octet presented art's freedom from the constraints of time and space, allowing our desire for understanding, considering and reconsidering systems of knowledge production, aesthetic experience, and participation in a social context to be ignited.

New York School of Visual Arts, one of the leading art institutions in the United States, has upheld its mission and vision for the last 60 years, through the training of professional artists and/or individuals excelling in their related fields. Pera Museum, where young artists meet viewers through a variety of collaborations every year, was pleased to joined forces to create an international cultural platform with this exhibition enabling discussions of the contemporary issues of art.

Narrative Imperatives ?

From Aesop to Gilgamesh, to Shakespeare, everyone loves a gripping story. Morality tales, fairy tales, tales of adventure or encounters of the third kind, stories are retold over time, and handed down as inherited wisdom. Stories underscore the foibles and fantasies within the human psyche and also recount the endless desires for romance, adventure and revenge.

The Corporeal and Divine ?

From vanitas to chakras, to meditative practices and calls to prayer, adherence to the sacred resonates through civilizations. Beliefs concerning the spirit and the soul, heaven and hell, the now and the afterlife, share a penetrating resonance with art, philosophy and theology. The reality of life’s decomposing flesh is often counteracted by an attempt to reach a state of grace willing to accept such temporal manifestations. Religion, myth and the spiritual in art narrate concerns over ethical dilemmas, in addition to soothing beliefs in everlasting time.

World Dramas ?

Power and politics shape each age, and the present time has become quite contentious, to say the least. With the decline of the concept of the nation-state and the eruption of alternative governments, new models of tactical war and peace populate the global landscape. From the requisite desire for ecological stewardship, to geo-political territorial tensions, from economic meltdowns to challenging peace plans, from historical mishaps to nuclear testing, what kinds of political pressures weigh upon citizens of the world today?

Relational Aesthetics ?

Relational Aesthetics, a term coined in 2002 by Nicolas Bourriaud, refers to art that interacts with its viewers. Not based on formal concerns of aesthetic experience, audience participation is a necessary and required aspect of this type of work. Like the Situationists before them, practitioners in this field aim towards developing collective social experiences, and endeavors to fuse art with life.

Word As Image ?

To conceive of words as flesh, or breath or abstract signs, integrating words with the visual arts has had a cross-cultural history. From the Rosetta Stone to oracle bones, from bark cloth paintings to illuminated manuscripts, words turn sounds into a concrete script. Simple lines, dots, dabs and flows, arabesques and undulating rhythms displace the articulating voice in the external world.

Identity and Identity Politics ?

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be part of a marginalised social group? How do race, religion, and/or gender, constitute an identity? The manner in which the self is defined is expressed through physical attributes, shared social values or political persuasions. In heterogeneous societies, such as America, a melting pot of citizens from Italian, Irish, Jewish, Arab, African, Chinese, Hispanic and Turkish descents among others, form distinct communities. Assimilating multifaceted cultural identities into the larger fabric of American life creates a multi-racial, multi-ethnic composite population. What does it mean to be an Asian-American or a Latino in the USA? Although we all share the primary structure of DNA, making us human, we each are also distinctly unique.

Material Matters ?

The nature of matter operates according to its own language: soft or hard, brittle or malleable, gestural or geometric to name but a few opposites. From truth-to-materials to trompe l’oeil, variegated examples expand the syntax of matter’s elasticity. The structure of matter from the nano to the gargantuan, from the microscopic to the macroscopic, from the inorganic to the carbon based organic, delights and engages artists, architects, designers, engineers and scientists of every stripe. To forge or construct, to cut or paste, molecular matrices, too, speak in novel combinatory practices.

Post Pop and Tabloid ?

The proliferation of mass media’s continual ebb and flow through traditional channels of distribution has now reached into the Internet’s domains. In an age of mixing and re-matching, popular culture has taken on a vast set of novel networks, which help to redefine consumerism, celebrity status and tabloid spin. In easily digestible formats, such picturing reaches a worldwide audience promoting messages, products or politics in all guises.

With the ease of a click one can traverse the globe instantly to find news headlines, YouTube movies, virtual visits to museums and galleries and of course a vast supply of advertisements




Exhibition Catalogue

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Octet: Selected Works From The School Of Visual Arts, New York
Curated by Suzanne Anker, Peter Hristoff

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