World Views: Open Studio Exhibition
The World Views program was launched in 1997 by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) in the north tower of the World Trade Center in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Initially conceived of as a residency for painters only, the program soon evolved to include emerging artists from around the world working in a variety of media. The aim was to provide artists with much needed studio space for a period of six months, offering time for reflection, dialogue, and interaction with peers and arts professionals, as well as the opportunity to interact with the business community. Most importantly, it gave artists the chance to make new works in a truly extraordinary environment.
On September 11, 2001 the North Tower of World Trade Center which housed the LMCC studio program was destroyed in a terrorist attack.
Over 140 artists have completed residencies sponsored by LMCC at the Trade Center. Fifteen World Views artists were selected for residency in the period of May to November 2001. They shared raw space on the 92nd floor with guest artist Peter Fend and writer Jeff Byles. On the morning of September 11, a resident sculptor, Michael Richards, was at work in the space when he perished in the attacks. He had been working on the Tuskeegee Airmen sculptural series, an homage to the African-American pilots who were awarded over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses during the course of WWII but were never honored. In particular, he was completing a sculpture of an airman riding a falling, burning meteor. This exhibition is dedicated to his memory.
Although many participants worked on projects begun prior to their residencies in the World Trade Center Tower, their work was affected by the social and aesthetic dynamics of the site in ways not always tangible or obvious. For the most part, artists chose to create new site-specific works inspired by the collective studio experience or by the Twin Towers themselves and what they represented. Artists explored myriad issues and topics ranging from spiritual to political, from poetic to ceremonial, and from narrative to conceptual. Their works dealt with issues of scale, geography, and architecture and examined modernism, politics, history, globalism, consumerism, corporate and popular cultures, progress, science and technology, and the psychology of places and the individuals inhabiting them.
At the end of each six-month residency cycle, the studios were opened to the public, and thousands of visitors were able to experience the eccentric, alternative, and daring qualities that characterized both the program and the city in which it was based. The current exhibition has been organized to take the place of the open studios weekend scheduled for mid-October. Despite their shock, grief, and loss, the artists were determined to complete their residency cycle and share the ideas and projects they had been working on prior to September 11. It is with this in mind that this exhibit has been assembled. The artists have been challenged to recreate destroyed work, reconceptualize work previously in progress, create works within the constraints of limited time and resources, and balance intellectual, moral, and ethical concerns in light of the disaster.
Simon Aldridge uses lo-fi materials to create his Day-Glo minimalist work inspired by television, computer games, and urban skate and BMX structures. While in residence, he studied the vertical qualities of the buildings and was searching for ways to control the light and glow that came from outside the windows. Naomi Ben-Shahar’s photographs dissolve, soften, and distort everyday objects into metaphors for human experience. Her recent video projects record the physical and psychological interactions of groups of individuals through light, movement, and energy. Monika Bravo’s video installations are influenced by Jungian psychology, the writings of Borges, quantum physics, and eastern philosophy. She manipulates imagery, materials, and technology to create illusions of recognizable landscapes and environments that examine the notion of space/time as a measure of reality. Laurie Halsey Brown creates site-responsive projects, which use time as a medium to reveal social, psychological, and architectural aspects of interior and exterior spaces. She works in video, audio, photography, and web. Justine Cooper explores how medical technologies mediate our conceptions of time, space, and identity. Most recently, she has focused on systems of translation, pattern and randomness, including that of the global economy. While in residence, she was making a synthetic gene of the Twin Towers, using wool to knit the DNA sequence of the buildings. Lucky DeBellevue, known for his pop-inspired sculptures referencing high and low art, mixes elements of drawing and painting into 3-D works. While in residence, he was challenged by the expansiveness of the views and lack of boundaries in the studio, and examined ways of extracting the basic structural elements of his work through drawings. Many of Carola Dertnig’s video projects involve humorous, spontaneous, performative actions through which the formal and conceptual aspects of her work emerge. Source material for her work is inspired by gender identity, youth culture, the everyday, and one’s perspective as an outsider. Mahmoud Hamadani makes abstract drawings in pencil and ink. Through folding, the drawings become ethereal, poetic, and conceptual in nature, drawing upon the principals of light and shadow. He was working on a large installation that would give visitors the feeling of entering into one of his drawings. Kara Hammond’s paintings and drawings examine the extremes of human accomplishment and technical activity, the relationships people have to the objects and places they create and ultimately leave behind, and what happens when objects or places become obsolete or abandoned. Space exploration is a compelling theme for her, and much of her recent work employs sterile interior modern environments. Jeff Konigsberg’s large-scale, abstracted prints and relief sculptures explore both the visceral and diagrammatic in real and imagined architectural structures, industrial spaces, and skyscraper views. In residence, he was working on a large-scale sheet-rock wall work, which referenced Renaissance fresco paintings and was not only an investigation of interior space, but also a complex view through the walls, floors, and ceilings, revealing existent and invented structural supports, engineering details, and exterior views. Motonobu Kurokawa is an architect who is interested in creating an architecture responsive to its surroundings and its metaphorical function by distilling and morphing external organic and natural elements into his built structures. While in residence, he explored the formal and conceptual process required to translate those same interests into works of art. Geraldine Lau works primarily in drawing and painting, utilizing a variety of tapes and oil paints to delve into aspects of layered history and cartography. Inspired by turn-of-the-century maps, her wall drawings reveal a myriad of incidental and manipulated imperfections within the apparent authority of mapped information. Nathan See has been working on a series that focuses on the mundane objects of everyday life. His sculptures and diagrammatic silkscreen prints place sculpture within the context of construction and illustrate the actions of the artist and participants manipulating these objects. While at the WTC, he investigated issues of scale, the sacred and the personal, and drew inspiration from both minimalism and Renaissance painting. Hyungsub Shin’s sculptures and objects incorporate found organic and industrial material and mechanical elements. Often his work’s lo-tech qualities reference the hi-tech realities of our time. He has been working on projections that explore the basic characteristics of still photography and moving images.
Moukhtar Kocache, Director of Visual and Media Arts, LMCC