Scrolls - kites - sheets - canvases in the street
scroll made on
August 10, 2019 @ MX Gallery, New York
my very first scroll taken from a high qualiy drawing paper
August 17, 2019 @ in the Street outside MX Gallery, New York
this scroll was made with the help of my two children, edgar and isadora ganahl in Chinatwon outside MX gallery - corner Elizabeth street and Canal street. I tried to embody the idea of some famous greek philosophers including Diogenes who lived and practices social interactions from a barrel.
August 19, 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police light
"NYPD HELLO HARLEM THANS FOR EXTRA LIGHT " ink and pencil on rice paper scroll
August 20/21, 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police ligh
O PATRIA NUOVA ... DRAINNG THE SWAMP (something uttered by Trump to indicate how he wants to eliminate immigrants)
August 22 2019 @ MX gallery, New York
MARX ANGELS DUST
August 22.23, 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police ligh
August 24, 2019 @ Marcus Garvey Park, New York together with my children
CITIBIKE, a gentrifying forced in all neighborhoods - ink play also with the shadows
August 25, 2019 @ Marcus Garvey Park - in the park itself
August 26, 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police ligh
August 26.27 , 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police light -Verdi la forza del destino
August 28 , 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ day light sheets . ink
August 29, 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police light- individual sheet to music by james brown - sex machine. (it created problems for me)- oil and crayon
August 29, 2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York @ Police light - canvas , Vienese Waltz
September 2,2019 @ 131st street between Adam Clayton Boulevard and Fredirck Douglas Boulevard, New York -l waltz for complexity
after beeing told to go on the north side of the street to the brownstone section i did so but was also interrupted massively by the police
Septembre 7, 2019 @ East Hampton
September 20 , 2019 @ Brooklyn Ps1 book fair and park nearby
@ Ps1 New York Art book fair and near by with flying the scroll late everning outside Moma Ps1
October 20, 2019 @ Pompidou Center - flying of a scroll as a kite from the balcony of the library until i was stopped by authorities
October 23, 2019 @ art academy stuttgart
October 23, 2019 @ Munich and Munich Art Academy (Students from the class of Olaf Nicolei burned the drying kite because it left a tale of ink in the hallway and the cleaning personal complained to them !)
October 24, 2019 @ Venice Sant Marco Square plus flying on warious locations including one late night at some romantic corner
this rice paper scroll was made in the head of the san marco plaza and i left my ink traces not something seen well by the authorities
scrolls and kites
My first roll of paper I purchased to save money for individual papers. I cut the necessary sheets up and tried to save money but soon I found myself seduced by the beauty of the paper and the length of the format. I also realized that it was conductive to large letter writing and thus immediately revealed its communicative and propagandistic qualities. Having experienced more and more censorship even in the field of fine arts, I used the same questions for which I was silenced on Instagram as well as elsewhere. The first time my Instagram account was disabled and my post erased was when I asked ŇI hashtag the new swastica?Ó Corporate power and the power of large state agencies become in various personal instances hard to be felt. Systemic racial inequities in relationship to where I am based, namely in Central Harlem opposite a NYCHA low income housing complex was also quite apparent day in and day out, all matters that are now made very prominent with the label Black Live Matters. The Election of president Trump in 2017 who run on a white suprematist and openly xenophobic platform rendered the current crisis even more evident in particular with the advent of ever more powerful and mobile handheld audio-visual technology that can instantly be shared by large global networks.
Given this context of extremely dividing forces on the media level and the seeming disappearance of an understanding empathetic center, I started to fill these scrolls with personal and political messages and enjoyed more and more the material presence. The purchase of the paper was indeed very expensive but justified as work expenses for an exhibition I was working on at MX gallery on Canal street overlooking the Manhattan bridge one of these massive infrastructural project which we take for granted but actually was hiding generational efforts of exploited labor and injustice. The rapid gentrification of the city also was for me beneficial and burdensome at the same time rendering large parts of the city economically only transactional and hence stripped of its stable base of residential segment that I once could frequent with relative social ease.
My personal situation was not enviable as I found myself in family court for years and deprived of my parental rights based on court rulings that privilege the mother of my two kids over me as a father albeit of any facts in dispute. I had to learn the hard way how the court system derided what I assumed were my rights. Those physical paper roles became also an outlet to scribble and formulate whatever came to my mind, whatever was on the news. Those media reports were filled with a lot of public hearings in Washington that invited hope for some kind of justice and dispolarization. Strictly personally speaking, I was still involved in a handful of one after the other unstable love affairs that dissolved as quickly as they came also often by women who were themselves not sure what they wanted since apps cater to their ever need and the single mentioning of hashtag metoo can be an exit strategy that is constantly available and to a certain degree also encouraged by constant media exposure. I became hypersensitive to any allusion of discomfort, the result of generational and age differences.
As a form of fast writing and easy application, I opted for ink thought it is a difficult medium I once had learned as an Austrian school kid. I also cherished it because of itŐs association with the literary proto-avantguardist and pataphysist Alfred Jarry who wrote about ink and seemed to have digested it like a drug. In the summer of 2019 tensions ran high in myself as well as around me. Conflicts could escalate easily and so they did. The most consequential one for my art work was with the owner of the MX gallery who took a complaint by a lady from a company below the gallery space so serious that my exhibition was terminated and my access to the space blocked. My show at MX was themed as a temporary artist summer studio. The complaint consisted of the woman claiming that I didnŐt erase a photograph when she posed in front of my art works. I was a big defeat comparable to the one I was subjected to in family court, like the outcome of the Supreme Court nomination hearings, like in my Prato fashion show in 2018, where I exposed the social conflict of the Italian host society with the migrant Chinese workers. In all this, facts simply didnŐt matter.
Around that time here in Harlem, the NYPD put up some extra fuel driven flood lights opposite my house to improve security. Unwanted in my MX summer spleen studio exhibition on Canal street, I relocated my art practice to Harlem and started to use the remaining warm nights to work on long scrolls using the free light as a stage on the south side of 131st street between Adam Clayton Jr. and Fredric Douglas boulevard. There exists an assumed economic and even racial divide between the south and the north of this street as the north is mostly filled with so-called historic brownstones that are owned by individuals or companies. Me, being a white individual from the northern side of this divide, working during night time on the south side, I found myself soon in all kind of explanations, discussions and conflicts. The most extreme was when police intervened because of my use of music during night hours - stemming from complaints by my neighbors to the north - and from a bucket of water purred over a set of relative expensive sheet drawings from a resident of the NYCHA buildings because they didnŐt want to see extra attention brought to their own nightly trading activities.
By the end of summer, chased away from the south side of the street divide, I found myself forced to set up my painting and drawing practice in front of my house that largely had ample space available thanks to a water hydrant that doesnŐt allow for parking. While writing this after the George Floyd protests, overseeing the same location, I am noticing an absence of parking tickets since people now simply park and seem to not get any tickets - a way the NYPD seems to react to all the current flood of police complaints. But until recently, the parking space in front of my house was kept empty with frequent and quickly handed out parking tickets which enabled me to use the left open parking space for a few scroll works into September. In my house these really expensive bulk purchased painting and drawing materials accumulated that I could barely move. I did look manic to some but not to me. As a conceptual artist I was excited by the work since I am rarely associated with studio practice and art materials but rather with organizing assistants and sorting out ideas. Storing the things and identifying them would take a long time and I started to understand one more time why conceptual art become so dominant when mass travel was rendered cheaply possible.
In summer 2019 , after 3 years, for the first time, the court allowed me to see my children, then 8 and 11, for 24 hours once a month without any supervision. I was a dream come true. But this was unfortunately possible only twice. As already mentioned above, the mother made an insanity argument and all visits were stopped again to this day of writing. When it was still possible to see my children, I implicated also Isadora and Edgar and we worked on a couple of scrolls together out in the streets. The first took place on Elisabeth Street and Canal Canal street outside the MX gallery that had banned me, and the next one in Harlem at the Citibike stand which can be unterstood as a gentrifying force in underserved communities like this one. It was a lot of fun to work with my children and they too seemed to have enjoyed it thought each public intervention carries a certain kind of embarrassment. At a third and last instance, we accepted an invite to the Hamptons where I also implicated the kids with my scroll work. That was my last time I was able to see the children without any supervision and it appears to be one of my happiest days of my recent life as a parent.
In September 2019, I was invited for a presentation during the NY art book fair and I decided to make a new scroll in the Volkswagendom where Edition Taube - who had worked with me in the past - wanted me for some intervention. I was intentionally messing with the wooden floor aware of the history of Volkswagen. Around that time an invitation reached me for a group show at PS1Moma for the exhibition ŇTheater of Operation - The Golf WarsÓ which touched upon media and war and somehow validated my interventions and protest oriented perspectives and practices thought objected each time while being made. In that month art seemed to be in the proper space thought my personal fate as a father escaped me more and more. Some of that pain is reflected in these scrolls which I started to fly and name as well kites. I had discovered the obvious and noticed that these scrolls of ink and pencil filled scribbles and signs could be flown like a kits. This turned into a dance for me including during a late evening in front of the locked MomaPs1 building the book fair was held. I also ran and danced with these papers scrolls in the park and enjoyed the picknick the bookmaker from Edition Taube made partially in my honor. To make these paper scroll fly is a way to feel free and forget about the painful situation I found myself in regards to my rights as a father and other personal, relational and financial predicaments I was in.
As a professor in Germanys I am quite often traveling between the USA and Europe. I am allowed to a German studio space and teach young and not so young people fine arts. To a certain degree, students are like a compensation for my family life. It was therefore obvious that I continued a few more finale scroll works made in Paris at the Pompidou Center, at the art academy Stuttgart followed by the finale ones on a class trip to Venice with a stop over in Munich. I was making scrolls in each place and flying them like a kite to dry the ink fast and with a certain grace and fun. Wet ink sticks together and ruins the paper. The Pompidou Center is one of the most busiest structure in Paris know for its cultural activities, museums, cinemas and generous hang out areas. It is an international magnet for tourists but also keeps open a famous library that allows for free access to books. In that area - with its own entrance to keep tourists away - the balcony is accessible and not fully encapsulated like the rest of the gigantic monumental complex. Given the security threats that are paramount around prominent sites It didnŐt take long before my kite flying - still half wet from writing - was attracting the attention from the security personal and my pleasure of flying the paper was numbered in minutes before I was respectfully walked out of it without even being asked for to identify. I had already succeeded and let it even drop from the balcony. Luckily enough, I was able to recuperate the paperwork from inside the construction site below that handed it out without much a problem.
After the marking, hence making of a Japanese rice paper scroll and drying it flying in Stuttgart on my protected home turf in the hallways of my studio, I moved on to Munich on the way to Venice. At the Munich state academy - one of my students was a also studying there and invited me for an unannounced intervention at that academy - I was marking a rice roll with ink by freely spraying the ink on the paper while I was fast dancing with the paper, thus creating a certain trail on the floor which then led to protests by the supers of the academy the following days about their ink stained floors. Unfortunately, the students took the complaint of a dirty hall way floor too serious and simply burned my scroll while we left it to dry in the class room of my student. That again is an indictor how free art is, how easily art can be destroyed and how respectful students are when it comes to work that is not announced to them with a given authority. A very sad and disrespectful experience that deprived me of my Munich art academy made art work, something I intent to sell at one point. Suddenly the dirt on the corridor became more important than the curiosity about an unannounced artwork resting respectfully to dry for a few days.
Venice was the culmination of these mostly asian rice scroll projects. Last October, the city offered the most poetic scenery, the most prominent place but also the freshest sea driven winds as it is an island during a time the Venice Biennial 2019 took place. Art is the selling point of this Italian experience, yet again, everything out of the normal needs to be registered, licensed, announced and somehow validated by the authorities. But the point of my scrolls and the work with ink spraying consists simply of its clandestine unannounced somehow poetic and propagandistic way. So I just sprayed an entire rice roll with ink on the San Marco Plaza hiding amidst the many pigeon feeding, selfie making tourists to evade the police that patrols these sites of high interests frequently. It was also a point leaving my traces of ink on the white marble floor marking it. Needless to say, this city is full of stories of colonial Eurocentric history so that I didnŐt feel any guilt leaving some marks on their magnificent white marble. Later at night, on my way to my hotel, I came across a group of art students who were happy to film and photograph me on my last dance with the paper in that marvelous town of endless beauty. Now I am curious what afterlife these performance objects will have as art object and as such I see them.
As an after-ward, historically speaking, scrolls donŐt play much of a role in the Western history of writing or art making but in Asia the story is different. Entire national tales and foundation narrations can be encountered inked on scrolls. One of the most famous is the Japanese tale of prince Genji which historians have proven to be a nationalist invention of the 19th century. Given todayŐs stress with fake media, with the manufacturing of evidence and the constant socio-economic and racial biases involved, I appreciate these works even more thought I myself might not be in a position to identify all scribbles and signs that cover these surfaces, mostly made under rather stressful conditions. But one thing is sure, the papers served me as helpful instruments of art making that registered personal history and personal joy and pain as well as reflect what was going on in the world around me. In spite of the high costs, I am very happy I made them.
written in summer 2020