July 22, 2014

Salon: Thora Dolven Balke and Jacob Kirkegaard

 Thora Dolven Balke’s practice involves both an exploration of image-making, sound and film as well as an involvement in the organization of artistic and curatorial platforms that contribute to the development of other artists’ work. Her photographic work and its sculptural counterparts simultaneously focus on the mechanical and human aspects of image-making and the conflict of trying to reconcile the two. Dolven Balke will present her own work next to some of her curatorial projects, and present sketches for an ongoing sound work developed during her residency at ISCP.

Jacob Kirkegaard will present his prize-winning sound work Labyrinthitis, which consists entirely of tones generated by the artist’s ears – and will produce tones in the ears of the listener. Labyrinthitis turns our ears inwards and enables us to mechanically hear ourselves hearing. Labyrinthitis has been presented at places like the World Science Festival, New York; Issue Project Room, New York; Stanford University; Electra, London; Transitio MX, Mexico City; CosmoCaixa/Sonar, Barcelona; Misako & Rosen Gallery, Tokyo; Medical Museion, Copenhagen; and Fundación Ludwig, Havana.

Participating Residents

Offsite Project
July 15–July 27, 2014

Michelle-Marie Letelier: Caliche Winds

El Museo de Los Sures and the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) are pleased to announce Caliche Winds, an exhibition of Michelle-Marie Letelier’s selected research, drawings and sculptures based in her ongoing investigations into the geography and history of the Atacama Desert mines. Letelier’s recent work focuses on the maritime route of Chile saltpeter-or sodium nitrate- from Chile to Germany. Formerly used as a fertilizer and gunpowder, saltpeter is a symbol of a profitable industry that was once Chile’s main export, extracted from Atacama. This exhibition aims to pay tribute to a historical moment, drawing out elements that consider the relationship between two natural resources, wind and sodium nitrate.

Below the cobalt blue skies, below the barren and dry surface, the Atacama Desert preserves large deposits of minerals: copper, lithium, and the world’s largest supply of sodium nitrate (NaNO3), also known as Chile saltpeter. Before the beginning of the 20th century, when German chemists discovered the Haber process, a procedure to synthetically produce sodium nitrate, Chile saltpeter was mined in the Atacama region and exported mostly to Europe and the United States, where it was sold as fertilizer and for the production of gunpowder. Saltpeter travelled the ocean route from the ports of Northern Chile, through Cape Horn, traversing the expanse of the Southern and Northern Atlantic Ocean, to Northern Europe.

Chile saltpeter, locally known as Caliche, has a diverse range of meanings. A symbol of land fertility, similarly to the Gigante de Atacama, an anthropomorphic geoglyph which served as inspiration for Letelier’s 2014 work The Prediction of Tarapacá. It could serve as a symbol of war and death, when considering gunpowder production and the War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War, between Chile, Peru and Bolivia, fought over possessions of saltpeter deposits.

Its geologic origin in the Atacama, the wind-propelled voyage through the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the passionate human involvement around this crystalline salt spurred the generation of artworks that relate to spiritual, magical connections between Man and the Earth, the energy of the wind and the sails to harness it, the geologic formation of saltpeter and the scars left by mines on the desert landscape, the War of the Pacific, the discovery of the Haber process and the ghost mining towns in Atacama today.

Michelle-Marie Letelier (born 1977, Rancagua, Chile) obtained her BFA at the Universidad Católica de Chile. Her recent solo exhibitions include Doomed Scape, Perlini Arte Gallery, Padua and Die Feinfühlige Zone, Die Ecke Gallery, Santiago. Her group exhibitions include Magic Block, Stiftelsen 3.14, Bergen; To Seize Matter and Leave a Landscape, Berlin; and X Video and Media Arts Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santiago. Her videos have been screened and exhibited in festivals across the world. In 2005, Letelier participated in the Mercosur Biennial and in 2012 she was awarded the first edition of ORA International Art Prize. Letelier lives and works in Berlin.

El Museo de Los Sures was born by a partnership between Los Sures with Cornell University and Churches United for Fair Housing to preserve the history of the neighborhood’s residents. The International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) is a nonprofit, residency-based contemporary art institution for emerging to mid-career artists and curators from around the world. This exhibition is the second collaboration between the two organizations.

The exhibition is realized with assistance from Michele Galletti, Julian Ehrlich and Monica Tyran.

Support has been provided by the Governing Mayor of Berlin; Institut für Auslandbeziehungen (IFA), Stuttgart; New York City Council Office District 34; the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

El Museo de Los Sures
120 South 1st Street, Brooklyn, NY

July 8, 2014

Salon: Michelle-Marie Letelier and Akansha Rastogi

 Michelle-Marie Letelier will focus on her previous and current process for the project The Last Journey of Peking, which she has been developing during her residency at ISCP as part of the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan. PEKING is a large bark that belonged to the last chapter of the commercial sailing trade, transporting Chile Saltpeter—or Sodium Nitrate—from Chile to Germany. Formerly used as a fertilizer and gunpowder, saltpeter is a symbol of a profitable industry that was once the main income of Chile, extracted from the Atacama Desert. Taken into consideration the fact that PEKING will not longer be part of the South Street Seaport Museum and the uncertainty that this situation brings, alongside the current conditions of the Museum, this project aims to pay tribute to an historical fact, by adding new elements that will enrich the relationship between two natural resources: wind and sodium nitrate.

Akansha Rastogi will elaborate on her curatorial practice, giving examples from her previous exhibitions and focusing in particular on the ongoing project Grazing. Moving back and forth between old projects and new conceptual frameworks that she has been developing during the residency, she will also read briefly from her recent writings on The Passer-by.