Following Nonhuman Kinds: The Symposium For Ghost Nature

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The schedule is finally set, artists have begun to arrive, Devin and I cleaned the apartment. We’ll be having a few dinners here over the week, and the apartment adjacent to ours is where a number of out-of-towners will be staying. In other words it’s all happening: the last iteration of the Ghost Nature project. Catalogues arrive this week (!), probably just as Devin and I do the second of two morning runs to Paris (about 2 hours away) in what I understand to be a Mercedes (it was the cheapest automatic car to rent; reminding myself how to drive stick in the airport parking lot might not espouse the greatest confidence to those jet-lagged visitors who just flew seven hours on an airplane.) I couldn’t be more excited. — Check it all out here.

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Ghost Nature in Turkey…

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Ghost Nature was written up in the Turkish maga #ArtUnlimited via the ever illustrious Pinar Uner:

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Untitled: an interview with Xaviera Simmons

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Published by Artslant on April, 2014:

Xaviera Simmons, Index Two, Composition One, 2012

Xaviera Simmons, Index Two, Composition One, 2012

Xaviera Simmons is a New York-based artist whose practice manifests in performance, photography, sculpture, installation, sound, video, and more. That dynamic interdisciplinary material is fueled by research, contemplation, and feeling, three modes that enable Simmons to not only reflect the complexity of the human condition but also empathize with it. No subject would seem unconquerable: she tackles history, the landscape, and the human figure within it; she plays with cultural narratives as well as stereotypes, and her work is somehow capable of reflecting problems while facilitating a transformative, aesthetic experience. Simmons’ work is currently featured in When the Stars Begin to Fall – Imagination and the American South at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Caroline Picard: How do you decide what medium to employ when addressing a particular concept?

Xaviera Simmons: There is simply no way that I can work in one medium and be fulfilled as an artist. Period! I like to think of my practice as one of weaving, where elements are folded into each other. I am always sketching, researching, going through texts, writing, looking online, and seeing exhibitions; that’s how things come together. I never try and stifle the flow, meaning if I cannot produce something right away it will be written down and stored for later reference. I wish that my studio could keep up with the amount of production I would like to do, but things have to be paced, I suppose.

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And the exhibition essay

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(in case you want to read it (and haven’t read it yet…))


Our galaxy is composed of an incredible number of collisions, irregular and discordant zones.Components exist simultaneously on a wide range of scales and conditions, each with its own set of propensities. Some bodies are plastic, other plants, atomic, muscle or planets. Each occupies its own time cycle: fungi can not live a day while the dogs reach adolescence after two years of life at the other end, the stars, they do enter a phase of disappearance after several billion years. In this tumultuous multiplicity, humanity struggles to establish and maintain a certain order, classifying plants, animals and humans to establish a hierarchical history and move forward. In this hierarchy, living beings have an advantage compared to inanimate matter and nature emerged in a romantic ideal showcase sublime, far from the industrial hints rights and the logic of capitalist production.

In his book The Ecological Thought (Harvard University Press, 2010), Timothy Morton complains that sharp differentiation and seeks instead to focus on the constant flow of our environmental assembly, in which the participation of man is as meaningful as any other species, living or inert. According to Timothy Morton, “Nature” as a place isolated, remote and non-human, does not exist. Rather would handle a network of interlocking parts, interdependent. The human species is fully integrated into the “mesh” and the romantic desire for harmony with a pristine landscape of human influence is impossible. Such areas do not exist. And it is not certain that they already existed. Yet we still inherit a desire to find the pure and pristine location. And this desire is an obstacle. Tingling phantom limb. As attractive a photo of the Alps on a tablet of Swiss chocolate, a desire for ever unfulfilled but infuriating.Based on a wide range of media, including performance, sculpture, photography, drawing and video artists Ghost Nature invest boundaries and links between human and non-human experience, thwarting strategies of representation of the landscape through which these sites have historically been analyzed.

The work of Robert Burnier seem quite unnatural and yet as residual traces of human production, we can not dismiss so quickly. Starting from a flat piece of aluminum in two dimensions, Robert Burnier produces three-dimensional object through a series of folds improvised. Each fold adds a new weight and a new dynamism, and narrowed the original surface. In describing the process, it does so in terms of the Situationists, as a derivative occurring at the surface of a malleable object and with it, rather than the Earth. More Robert Burnier work surface, plus features emerge. It captures the emerging form as part generates the depth and the shape becomes a different landscape on the wall. read more


Ghost Nature: notes from an installation

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The final iteration of Ghost Nature opened last night at La Box, Bourges FR with great success. Chicago-based artist Heidi Norton and crew flew in to create a new, site specific piece, Devin (King) installed his cassette tapes, and all other works made it through customs, got downloaded and/or translated when necessary. I’m amazed to feel both living in Bourges, and the Ghost Nature project are coming to its conclusion. It feels strange — awesome — bittersweet. We leave France on May 1st, heading back to Chicago by way of Austin. While the end is in site, I’ve got a related symposium planned on the 17th and 18th of April. Participants will be coming from San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, London, Paris and Bourges; with the help of some faculty at ENSA (where La Box is located, and Devin and I have been living) I’ve been working with  students here who will be responding to the symposium topic by installing an exhibition of their own works. I’m really excited about that final hurrah — a way to open up the conversation established in the exhibit and accompanying catalogue, and transferring that into an interactive dialogue. I’ll be posting the final announcement about that shortly.

In the meantime, here are some install images….better pictures to follow, of course, but I do like seeing the progression of the space evolve….


sketches for a box to enclose Sebastian Alvarez’s video piece…


Rebecca Mir Grady’s table, before a paint job (see residue from previous exhibition on the periphery)


Heidi Norton’s pane of glass, straight from the shop (we used the blue plastic glass suction cup holders on Rebecca Mir Grady’s table to move it from the truck to the gallery)


Devin King’s shelf installed, though not yet painted. Carrie Gundersdorf’s wall drawing is on the right. I hung that first — in the center of the gallery’s long wall. I think it’s often hardest to know where to begin hanging a show, what to put up first in an entirely blank, clean space; this piece was a great friend in that regard.


Checking to make sure Stephen Lapthisophon’s video, “Kleist” was working.

Robert Burnier's sculpture made it through customs on Wednesday (the box spent a long weekend in Paris)

Robert Burnier’s sculpture made it through customs on Wednesday (the box spent a long weekend in Paris)


Notes I wrote to myself, to keep track of what order to hang Jeremy Bolen’s photos in and how much distance should be between the frames.


The show was really starting to come together here. I think this was Wednesday (opening on Thursday)


Right after we hung Robert Burnier’s piece, I took this picture.


The preliminary arrangement of Rebecca Mir Grady’s table — though the various parts were moved around during the opening. People seemed especially drawn to repositioning the creased photograph of snow.


Calendar months, March and April, mounted for Stephen Lapthisophon’s second piece, “Duration.”


Another survey of the room — see Devin’s painted shelf.


Thursday at about 4pm — (opening was at 6) — Sebastian Alvarez’s video was downloaded and installed in the flat screen in the box. It was a pretty exciting moment when it started to work — up until that point, the box had been sitting there like a very large, but as yet unfulfilled presence.


Finally finished installing Stephen Lapthisophon’s “Duration” — calendar, box, and root vegetables.