November 9–November 21, 2012

Clark House Initiative at ISCP

ISCP’s 2012 institution-in-residence is Clark House Initiative, Bombay. This annual residency was initiated by ISCP in 2011 to support cultural exchange by bringing an international perspective into a local context. Clark House Initiative is a curatorial practice about a place, which, in sharing a junction with two museums and a cinema, mirrors the fiction of what these spaces could be. Sumesh Sharma and Zasha Colah established Clark House Initiative in 2010 as a curatorial collaborative concerned with ideas of freedom.

Beginning in November 2012, Clark House organizes an exhibition, series of discussions and performances at ISCP, as well as the meeting and an exhibition between Burmese artists Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye: Yay-Zeq: Two Burmese Artists Meet Again.

Alongside Open Studios, Clark House Initiative brings a program to New York that illuminates the philosophical and cultural strategies that have served to withstand or conjure tectonic social and political shifts of upheaval or change. In Burmese thought, yay-zeq, a water-drop, signifies a present or future encounter caused by an act of merit performed by two people in the past. Yay-Zeq: Two Burmese Artists Meet Again tells the story of how artist Sitt Nyein Aye taught law student Htein Lin to draw on the forest floor in an enclosed refugee camp in Manipur in 1988 after fleeing Burma during the 8888 Uprising. It also tells the story of the friendship between Htein Lin and the comedian Zarganar in Rangoon that began at their university in the mid-1980s and has survived each other’s multiple imprisonments and exiles.

While at university they reinvigorated the ancient comedy and dance tradition – anyeint – in two directions. For Zarganar (whose name means tweezers), it took the form of stand-up comedy routines. Htein Lin and his performance partner Chaw Ei Thein used its recognizable structure of a princess and a comedian to create small acts in the streets of Rangoon.

Clark House Initiative presents rarely seen selections from Sitt Nyein Aye’s archive, including drawings of his journey from Burma to India and the camps and refugee communities in which he lived, as well as his own writing and autobiography alongside publications he edited and produced by means of makeshift printing machines. Also exhibited for the first time is a video documenting the artist Htein Lin’s second performance in 1997, at an exhibition opening in Yangon, kept secret since its creation and only returned to the artist this year. The exhibition is a culmination of conversations, collected archives, commissions and translations that began when curator Zasha Colah first met Htein Lin in his studio in 2008.

Drawings on the Forest Floor: Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye in conversation
Saturday, November 10th, 5pm
This conversation serves as the first public meeting of Burmese artists Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye since they fled to the border hills following the repression of the democratic protest against the military regime in Burma that began on August 8, 1988, now known as the 8888 Uprising. Together they share their views on art and philosophy, duty and “the artist’s way,” reconnecting with their discussions from 24 years ago, including Sitt Nyein Aye’s imparting of an art education through drawings on the forest floor.

Living Monument: A performance by Htein Lin and Chaw Ei Thein
Sunday, November 11th, 3pm

Living Monument is a collaborative performance between Htein Lin and Chaw Ei Thein developed in response to recent political transitions in Burma and the artists’ current positions as persons in exile. The artists will don traditional Burmese dance costumes and perform various narratives providing commentary on the historical and current political situation in Burma. The performance will remember and recognize times under the previous military dictatorship and doubtfully consider the potential of the new democratically elected Burmese government.

Collective Practices Discussion
Monday, November 19th, 6:30pm

Clark House is currently working on the idea of cultural transfer – how a work of culture can be transferred to another cultural context, which may be another geography or from another time. Curators Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma will use video and assemblage works to discuss their on-going research of collective practices from various parts of India, especially the Northeast.

Translations: Ko Moe and Vicky Bowman. Collaborators: Amrita Gupta-Singh Mohile Parikh Center Bombay, Home Office Yangon, JJ School of Art Bombay, Asian Cultural Council New York, Kari Conte and ISCP, New York. The exhibition will travel to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale with the support of Foundation for Arts Initiatives New York and Stapati Architects Kochi.

October 16, 2012

Street Haunting Discussion with Nanna Debois Buhl and Jen Kennedy

Nanna Debois Buhl and Jen Kennedy will discuss the figure of the flâneuse and the act of walking as a way to experiment with identity and to carve spaces for reflection and action – at once a physical act, a mode of production, and a metaphor.

Nanna Debois Buhl’s Street Haunting features three newly commissioned works that utilize the act of walking in unexpected ways.  For each work, Buhl has created a system where a walk becomes the impetus for images and stories, revealing new paths through urban and literary landscapes. In the accompanying publication, Jen Kennedy looks at both the material and imaginary walks that Buhl takes the viewer on in Street Haunting. Beginning as a conversation with the artist on the complex histories of flâneurie and dérive, as well as often on overlooked theorists of walking, Michéle Bernstein and Henriette Valet, Kennedy’s text also maps the literary and visual intertexts evoked in the works in the exhibition.

Nanna Debois Buhl received her MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006 and participated in The Whitney Independent Study Program, New York in 2008-09. Recent shows include: El Museo del Barrio, New York; Art in General, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Bureau, New York; Lunds Konsthall, Lund and Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense. Her work is in the collections of the Museum for Contemporary Art and The National Museum of Photography in Denmark. In 2010, Revolver Publishing published her artist’s book A Journey in Two Directions and the collaborative book City Grammar (with Liz Linden). Her work has recently been discussed in Art in America, Flash Art, Artforum, and The New York Times.

Jen Kennedy is a Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellow at Binghamton University. Her work looks at the radical redefinition of young womanhood in France during the years coinciding with the end of WWII and the collapse of France’s colonial empire, focusing on how this new fantasy of femininity was détourned, appropriated, and otherwise explored by Guy Debord, Michèle Bernstein, and Gil Wolman, among other postwar artists, writers, and filmmakers. Her writing can be found in Image & Narrative, Alphabet Prime, C Magazine, Fuse, and Grey Room. She was a critical studies fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2008-2009 and is part of an ongoing collaboration with Liz Linden that looks at the semantics of contemporary feminism.

October 9, 2012

Salon: Tomaz Furlan and Olson Lamaj

Tomaz Furlan will discuss his WEAR video project, including a video performance that depicts one day in the life of a typical worker. The video shows the worker’s reality in both a funny and cynical way.

Olson Lamaj uses photography, video, painting, and installation to capture and address the absurdities, ironies, and contradictions that characterize the fast-paced change of contemporary urban
Albania. He will discuss his video project photo eater and two of his photo collections, Details
and On the Street.

Participating Residents