Proteoscope » proteus gowanus The Blog of Proteus Gowanus Thu, 12 Nov 2015 16:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Secret Wars Tue, 12 Feb 2013 06:01:13 +0000 Dear Readers,

Proteoscope proudly returns to your pixel screens after a monthlong break, with a new topic to go with our new exhibition. I’m Tom Miller, an anthropologist who studies sound, shamanism, and the history of science. Together with Protean creative director Tammy Pittman, I co-curated Secret Wars, the current exhibition at Proteus Gowanus. I’ll be guest blogging for the next two months.

Secret Wars, the second installment of our yearlong Battle series, explores the cryptic ways of warfare waged behind a cloak of invisibility.  Here at Proteoscope we’ll go down the rabbit hole in pursuit of the themes in the exhibition: surveillance, drone warfare, shortwave spy signals, WikiLeaks, redactions, codes, invisible weaponry, cults of secrecy, the persistence of lost things in memory, the neurobiological bases of fear and more. I invite your comments and dialogue as we look at each of our artists’ work, play surrealist conflict games, and reveal the covert world of hidden battle.


Predator 2 by Joy Garnett

Predator 2 by Joy Garnett


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Signing off… Fri, 11 Jan 2013 17:21:13 +0000 With this post I am signing off on War of Words. Thank you Sasha Chavchavadze and Tammy Pittman for letting me play in the Proteus Gowanus sandbox for the last few months. And thank you as well to all of the participating artists and readers of this blog.

Out with the old…in with the new….


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Regrets. On second thought, make that Optimism. Fri, 11 Jan 2013 16:46:34 +0000 Some last words in the War of Words Regrets is the title of Stephanie Brody Lederman’s work that was in the War of Words show. And Regrets is the word I would use to describe the fact that I never got around to sharing all of the work in the show. But that’s about to be remedied with a bit of Optimism (the title of Reed Seifer’s work).

So, I’ll channel a little Optimism here as I squeeze in all of the remaining War of Words works. Why?eeessss!

Here we go (in no particular order)….

Lance Rutledge. Why?eeeeeeesssss! Painting. Lance’s website.

Stephanie Brody Lederman. Regrets.  Drawing/Painting on paper. Stephanie’s website.

Barbara Caruso and bpnichol. H. Artists Book. Presented by Granary Books. Granary’s website.

Reed Seifer. Works from the Optimism Project. Metrocard, Buttons, Print. Optimism website.

Rosaire Appel. They Went Back and Forth Until Dawn. Collage and unique artists book. Rosaire’s site and blog.

Anli Liu. No (Binary) and Yes (Binary). Mounted embroidery. Anli’s website.

Artifact of bookworm-eaten pages from the collection of Sasha Chavchavadze. Sasha’s website.

And last, but not least…

Pure Products USA. Fuck Snow Globe. Pure Products website.


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Reading Report Thu, 10 Jan 2013 18:11:45 +0000

Sasha Chavchavadze reading from “The Poets Duel”  as Wendy Walker, one of the event organizers, looks on.

It might be considered a tradition at this point. It being an evening of readings related to the Proteus Gowanus year-long theme organized by Proteotypes’ publishers/editors (and authors) Tom LaFarge and Wendy Walker.

I asked if they would do such an event during War of Words portion of the Battle year (knowing they couldn’t resist with a title like that). They came up with a great list of texts (see below) and found some wonderful readers very close to home (many who are members of the Writhing Society, the ad hoc literary group that meets most Wednesdays in the gallery to practice various forms of constrained writing).

And so, on very cold and dark December 15th a small group gathered to hear…

William Burroughs, “Word Authority More Habit Forming Than Heroin,” The Burroughs File (read by Angelo Pastormerlo)

Kurban Said (aka Lev Nussinbaum), Chapter 5, “The Poets’ Duel,” Ali and Nino (read by Gallery Founding Director, Sasha Chavchavadze)

Jane Collier, “To Parents,” An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting (read by Carrie Cooperider)

Paul Metcalf, “Bash Bish”, Apalache (read by Tom LaFarge)

Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet (read by Wendy Walker)

Anonymous, “The wicked who would do me harm,” The Rattle Bag, ed. Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes (read by Michael Flory)

Thank you Tom, Wendy and readers/performers for an inspiring evening of War of Words word-slinging. Bang!


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Yes or No? Sat, 15 Dec 2012 18:13:48 +0000 On indeterminacy, serendipity, fluxus, positivity and negativity—and how
I learned to love surprise.

Inspired by John Cage’s ideas of indeterminacy and fueled by the topic of “war of words,” I thought it might be interesting to organize a hive-mind piece that used just 2 words—Yes or No—in a virtual face-off. It was an experiment…a let’s-see-what-happens approach to curating.

When I ran it by director Tammy Pittman (who was also an inspiration for her Objects show), she thought it was interesting and so we sent out an open call .

A few days later I came across an image of an early Fluxus piece by Benjamin Patterson—a card which states simply: “please answer this question carefully”  and then there were two check boxes, one “yes” and one “no.”

I cringed. It’s been done already, I thought…or something very close to it.  But the truth is when you throw an idea out there and give up control, it will always come back anew with a few surprises.

Yes-or-No wasn’t what I imagined (but that was the point, no?) yet it inspired 55 artists to do what THEY imagined. And they did some amazing things…stop by the gallery and take a closer look.

Yes-or-N0 Artists

Row 1 Lisa Cirando, Jan Kruse, Anne Saunders, Lisanne McTerran, Tyrie Kauff
Row 2
Michael Flory, Wayne Kral, Teresa Von Fuchs, Susan Happersett, Jonathan Lux
Row 3
Emily Haydock, Donna Maria de Creeft, Sarah Bodman, Aarati Akkaped, Lily Angotti
Row 4
Dikko Faust, Fred Bendheim, Julie Harrison, Angelo Pastormerlo, Diane Bertolo
Row 5
Travis Schmeisser, Rachael Heinold (with Todd Beers), Jamie McPartland, Drew Pisarra, Paula Berge
Row 6
Molly Biance Gross, Anne D. Bernstein, Todd Beers (with Rachel Heinold), Vincent Lai, Matt Allison
Row 7
Rosaire Appel, Brendan Loper, Thomas Wilk, Elizabeth Whalley, Tom LaFarge
Row 8
Elizabeth Albert, Janet Tsakis, Tammy Pittman, Wendy Walker, Sarah Edkins
Row 9
My Life As A Collage, Paul Bravmann, Matthew Shelley, Eric Schurink, Alexis Myre
Row 10
T J Hospodar, Maria Schurr, Yorgo Vetter, Charlotte Hall, William Considine
Row 11
Manuela Paul, 0H10MIKE, Dustin Harewood, Lucy Edkins, Lauren Raheja

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Out There (3) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:05:57 +0000 Out There: in which we dig up War of Words related works.

Dear Lucy — a letter to Lucy Lippard from Nancy Spero in 1971. So perfect…no further words needed from me.

The letter is from the Lucy Lippard papers at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute.






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Words. And plenty of them. Sun, 09 Dec 2012 15:26:33 +0000 (more on War of Words)

Opinionated. Cranky. Smart. Funny.

You could write a good deal about William Powhida’s work or you could settle with those four words and it would be ok.

Powhida’s work is the kind of funny that’s painful…as they say “the truth hurts” and he dishes it out in beautiful, jam-packed, cranky drawings that are awesome to behold. Most people love the drawings that slam the art world (while that very art world embraces them—oh irony). But more recently, he has expanded his circle and just about every place of power is fair game.

Detail from “Where Does Power Come From Anyway”

The piece in the War of Words show is a critique of power— political, cultural, philosophical—disguised as a field guide (money power, star power, consumer power, etc.) and presented as a drawing. A war of words, yes!

Take a look at the piece online (enlarge for details) and check out his tumblr or website while you’re clicking.


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Redaction (-ish) Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:35:58 +0000 A short post that got lost in the shuffle as Sandy hit our shores (and basement):

If redaction is a conscious removal of words then we can add Ligorano/Reese’s melting ice sculptures to the list. The sculptures in question are hot-topic, push-your-buttons political words created in ice, installed in public locations and left there until their demise.

The latest of these were installed in public spots at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. The words this time around were Middle Class.

Of course we don’t have the ice sculptures in the gallery, but we do have a video that uses stop-motion editing to tell the story of the demise of Democracy, Economy, and Middle Class. If you can’t make it to the gallery, visit to view the videos of the most recent works.

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Out There (2) Fri, 26 Oct 2012 14:30:53 +0000 More Redaction

Jenny Holzer figured high on the list while thinking about War of Words. I confess that I often utter the words “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise” (most often while watching/ reading the news—but perfect for so many occasions).

While we didn’t get Holzer’s work for the exhibition, we did obtain a copy of Redaction Paintings, a beautiful book/catalog published by Cheim & Read (and thank you to Howard and Katia Read of Cheim & Read for their donation of this book).

When you stop by the gallery (and reading room), please be sure to check it out. The paintings are enlarged facsimiles of redacted FBI files dealing with some of the most heinous events of our times (water boarding, the World Trade Center and so on). It’s a potent mix: horrible social fact with beautiful cultural artifact.

More: read an interview with Jenny Holzer where she discusses making these works. And see more works at Cheim & Read.

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Redaction Part 2 Mon, 22 Oct 2012 14:46:32 +0000  

In the War of Words, removing a word can be as potent as adding one.

Consider Paula Gaetano Adi’s video documentation of her ongoing performance Pica (on view in War of Words). She calls the performance “an attempt to embody a non-native language.” In this case, the word embody is used quite literally. Each day she carefully removes a single English word from an Spanish/English dictionary, speaks the word and then eats it.

Taken at face value, there’s a peculiar deadpan humor at play. But beneath the surface Paula’s performance hints at a bit of prejudice.

¿Quieres algo de comer?


Read and view more by visiting Paula’s website



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