Adventures in Irvine


Last night Jennifer Cheng and I visited four of UCI's numerous galleries.  It was opening night for CULT OF THE RUIN: STRATEGIES OF ACCUMULATION  in the University Art Gallery (UAG) & Room Gallery in the art department.  



Uag 4


This group show presented works from emerging artists working largely in the conceptual realm hinged on art critic Craig Owen's ideas of transience and fragmentation via allegorical referents utilized in contemporary art practices.  You can read more about art history professor and critic Craig Owen's theories in the essays published in the early 1980s entitled "The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism"  (two parts).

Uag 3




The show itself had quite a nice turn out and was heavy on the digital media side.  Fancy food was prepared by a team of hipsters with very cool hair.  Salmon (consume seen here on the right) was the theme, although I have to admit I was not as brave as my companions and passed on the consume in exchange for long look at the heart-y Pulse Show by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. 




Beall gallery 1

If you hurry, you can still catch this amazing exhibition in the adjacent Beall Center for Art & Technology gallery. (seen above)


Uag 6

After a short interlude, we went back into the UAG for a closer look at the show. Melting ice, old school tape recorders, and racy videos really activated the space. Jennifer and I found ourselves discussing the draw of new media in contemporary art practices today, and wondered if there are many of you out there that are mystified by their often obtuse nature.  

Do you get it?

We would love to hear from you, so drop us a line.


Uag 1

In addition to artists Miles Ake, Katie Ammons, Ping-Hsiang Chen, Giulio Frigo, Tatiana Istomina, Brennan Gerard & Ryan Kelly, Leigh Ledare, Marilyn Lowey, Ash Eliza Smith, Nico Vascellari, Jesse Wine. . .  there it was, the now infamous David Wojnarowicz film from 1987 titled A Fire in My BellyThis is the film that was banned from the National Portrait Gallery's very recent, in fact on going, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" exhibition.  It's hard to believe that in 2011 we are still discussing censorship issues of this nature.  In silent protest, UCI and many other institutions, galleries and organizations are showing Wojnarowicz's film. 








Go see it, you will be shocked at how un-shocking it all is. IN PARTICULAR being exhibited right next to the provocative and almost pornographic family video portraits of Leigh Ledare (seen here just below) in the UAG. 

Uag 2























Our guide and personal GPS artist Dorothy Phan, also one of the organizers of the Catalyst Gallery, got us over to the Room Gallery where the installations of Nico Vascellari (video) and Tatiana Istomina (portraits) almost over-powered Giulio Frigo's cross section of ribbons dividing up the space and placing the viewer in the middle akwardville. . . whether conscious of it or not.  


Room 2


Go see the shows, they are worth the trip up to UCI.  There will be a performance by Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly on February 5th, 5-8pm, last night of the show so get it in your calendars.

Don't forget your GPS and refreshments, after all it is Irvine.


Here is the low-down:


Opening Reception Thursday, January 6, 6-9 pm | UAG & ROOM
January 6 – February 5, 2011

Cult of the Ruin: Strategies of Accumulation features 12 emerging artists from the U.S. and Europe working in video, performance, sculpture, installation, watercolor and food. What binds these disparate projects is the persistence of appropriation, re-enactment, material accretion – as strategies – to address the perceived gap between records of the past and our present experiences.  Over 20 years have passed since critic Craig Owens posited this gap as a site for allegory.  In doing so, Owens defined a branch of postmodern art practice by the artist’s allegorical “impulse” to return to outmoded forms and systems – or ruins – to reinvigorate their contemporary value.  Taken together, the works in this exhibition evince contemporary deviations from his original theory.  And yet, their re-making of Owens’ allegorical impulse keeps the original theory alive.

Featured artists: Miles Ake, Katie Ammons, Ping-Hsiang Chen, Giulio Frigo, Tatiana Istomina, Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly, Leigh Ledare, Marilyn Lowey, Ash Eliza Smith, Nico Vascellari, Jesse Wine and David Wojnarowicz 

Curated by: Sarah Beadle, Meredith Goldsmith, Flora Kao, Scott Klinger, Lauren Merage and Aaron Valenzuela

Closing night performance by Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly 


The University Art Gallery | 712 Arts Plaza | Irvine, CA 92697-2775 | tel. 949 824 9854 | fax. 949 824 5297 |
Room Gallery | University of California, Irvine | ACT rm. 1200 | Irvine, CA 92697-2775
Hours | Tuesday-Saturday | 12-6pm


Thanks UCI we love you!!


Joanna Grasso, Contributing Writer & Official Trouble Maker




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