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Center for Visual Art Presents Collectivism
DENVER, COLORADO – Collectivism, opening August 1 at the Center for Visual Art, MSU Denver invites viewers to explore how working in collectives provides artists an outlet for expression that is different from their individual practice, in particular in areas of activism and humor, and additionally in how those modes of practice overlap. The exhibition features the work of 13 local, international and historic artist collectives including: Ant Farm, Distill Collective, DMB Collective, KUT, Ladies Fancywork Society, Secret Love Collective, Shattered Moon Alliance, subRosa, Tea Project, TVTV, Videofreex, The Women’s Art League and Women’s Video News Service.
“CVA is committed to presenting compelling contemporary exhibitions that spark dialogue and we are pleased to present work created through collective action that so thoughtfully engages with current issues our visitors are eager to discuss including gender, identity, media, privacy, technology and gentrification” says Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA. “It is our hope that the teamwork and collaboration inherent in this exhibition and the collective examination of contemporary issues will inspire our community to come together in conversation.”
Collectivism includes the work of several local artists collectives including Ladies Fancywork Society, Secret Love Collective and the Women’s Art League showcasing the dynamic creativity and diversity of Colorado’s flourishing art scene.
Boulder-based Women’s Art League will exhibit “vagina china” – their large-scale community art project that explores issues related to sex trafficking, connecting this alarming global reality with a centuries older global trade in Asian ceramics.
Ladies Fancywork Society and Secret Love Collective, both based in Denver, will each exhibit new work. Ladies Fancywork Society to will unfurl Our Lady, a large scale crocheted sculptural intervention while the Secret Love Collective will install an alternative world onsite at CVA replete with an interactive costume closet where visitors can explore different identities and ways of being.
Secret Love Collective will also present a variety of unique events throughout the run of the exhibition including the Parade of Selves and the In Bed By Ten dance party DJed by member DJ L.A. Zwicky on August 2. The group will also host an interactive, art making game show, Collect This!, on October 10 where participants will collect seemingly random elements to make art. Costumes, puppets and potentially artful chaos to ensue.
Other events include an artist talk and performance by the noted cyberfeminist artist collective subRosa. Members Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding will join guests in conversation about their practice on September 5. On September 6, members of subRosa will present a new performance, Gentrification U, that explores the intersections of the higher education industry with housing gentrification, the gig economy, and the new forms of digitizing and monetizing of life and death.
Other highlights include the Tea Project whose work shares the voices and experiences of men in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp highlighting the human rights violations of the Global War on Terror. Also included are KUT, an anonymous group of Latvian filmmakers, musicians, artists, politicians and cats and Shattered Moon Alliance, a collaborative duo that explores sci-fi world-building that re-centers feminist perspectives.
Additionally, interactive art making stations throughout the gallery will allow visitors to create their own art and correspond directly with the collectives themselves.
“We feel it is important to provide fun and meaningful opportunities for visitors to not only engage with the exhibition but to also directly interact with the artists,” says Cullen. “By adding these participatory elements within the exhibition, we hope visitors will be inspired to express what is personally meaningful to them and share issues that are important in their communities.”
Collectivism also features the work of two MSU Denver Art Department faculty members, Associate Professor of Art and Collectivism co-curator Tsehai Johnson and Associate Professor of Art Michael Bernhardt. With Distill Collective, Johnson departs from her ceramics practice to create conversational and collaborative drawings through the mail. Bernhardt, of DMB Collective, is one of the three creators of the album War On Christmas which pokes fun at the daily stream of data from the world of current events in politics, as well as the self-absorbed nature of social media and beyond.
MSU Denver Art Department Chair, Associate Professor Art History, Theory and Criticism and Collectivism co-curator Deanne Pytlinski, who has written extensively on 1960’s feminist video art and counterculture, rounds out the exhibition with her selection of videos from prominent, historical experimental and feminist film collectives including Ant Farm, Videofreex, TVTV and Women’s Video News Service.
Collectivism opens August 1 and continues through October 19, 2019. There will be an opening celebration on August 1 from 6-8 pm. Collectivism is organized by the Center for Visual Art and is curated by Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA, Tsehai Johnson, Associate Professor of Art, MSU Denver and Deanne Pytlinski, Chair, MSU Denver Department of Art and Associate Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism.
The Center for Visual Art is located at 965 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, Colorado. CVA is open 5 days a week and admission is free. For gallery hours, full event listings and visitor information, please visit: www.msudenver.edu/cva.
About the Collectives:
Ant Farm was an avant-garde architecture, graphic arts, and environmental design practice, founded in San Francisco in 1968 by Chip Lord and Doug Michels and later included Hudson Marquez and Curtis Schreier.
Back, front, upside, downside, edited, turned and returned are some of the words that describe the processes Distill Collective uses to create composite drawings that challenge the paradox of site-specificity, authorship and ownership to ground emotional and intellectual surplus resulting from 20 plus years of being in touch as friends, colleagues and collaborators.
The DMB Collective is a collaboration between Donald Fodness, Michael Bernhardt and Barry Whittaker. Building on a shared sense of the absurd, these three artists question the value of language and the objects surrounding us. By practicing the most blatant misappropriation and misuse, the DMB Collective explores overlooked opportunities in the commonplace and obsolete objects we live with.
While all collectives in this exhibition take risks as a group, share anarchical tendencies and question institutional modes of creative communication, none do more so than KUT Collective who came together anonymously for a one-day intervention in Riga, Latvia to create, Oh Joy, on view at CVA.
Denver-based Ladies Fancywork Society has been terrorizing your neighborhood with their, “garish yarn crimes.” since 2007. What began as a group of crochet-loving friends has transformed into a diabolic art hydra capable of putting together large-scale projects, international art shows and installations.
Secret Love Collective formed in 2017 out of a desire to connect and create worlds that do not yet exist. Through gatherings, events, performances and exhibitions, this collective engages friends and strangers in questioning the status quo, rigid categories of identity, dominant social structures and art world hierarchies. By creating, they seek to re-envision their lives and gain agency, seeing their work as inherently political and intentionally liberating.
Shattered Moon Alliance formed in 2015, after 6 years of long distance pen-pal friendship between artists Christina Battle and Serena Lee. Both artists create work informed by common interests exploring collaborative practice through the lens of sci-fi world-building that re-centers feminist perspectives, finding its origins in a long-distance conversation manifest as a ‘transmedia publication.’
subRosa is a reproducible cyberfeminist cell of cultural researchers led by artists Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding committed to combining art, activism and politics to explore and critique the effects of the intersections of the new information and biotechnologies on women’s bodies, lives and work. The collective’s name honors feminist pioneers in art, activism, labor, science and politics: Rosa Bonheur, Rosa Luxemburg, Rosie the Riveter, Rosa Parks and Rosie Franklin. subRosa produces artworks, activist campaigns and projects, publications, media interventions, and public forums that make visible the effects of the interconnections of technology, gender and difference; feminism and global capital; new bio and medical technologies and women’s health; and the changed conditions of labor and reproduction for women in the integrated circuit.
The Tea Project is a collaboration between two artists, Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes that uncovers moments of beauty, poetics and shared humanity within little known military histories and highlights human rights violations from the “Global War on Terror.” Over the last 15 years, the United States imprisoned at least 780 Muslim men, nearly all without charge, at Guantanamo Bay in violation of international law. Detainees were only allowed to have styrofoam cups, and many would write and draw all over them. The Tea Project’s installation includes hundreds of cast porcelain styrofoam teacups. Each cup bears one of these individual’s name and country of citizenship, and is engraved with national or indigenous flowers from that country. The number of flowers engraved on each cup represents the number of men detained from their respective country of citizenship.
TVTV was formed in San Francisco in 1972 by Michael Shamberg, Megan Williams, Tom Weinberg, Hudson Marquez and Allen Rucker. All of these members had previously been members of other video collectives, including Ant Farm, Media Access Center and Raindance and solicited members of those and other grassroots video groups to make documentaries about political conventions, religious organizations, Hollywood and sports.
Videofreex was a video collective that formed in New York City in 1969 and moved in 1971 to the town of Lanesville in upstate New York, near Woodstock. The primary members were Skip Blumberg, Nancy Cain, David Cort, Bart Friedman, Davidson Gigliotti, Chuck Kennedy, Curtis Ratcliff, Carol Vontobel, and Ann Woodward. The group actually formed after several members met at the Woodstock Music Festival having brought newly available portable video cameras to the festival to film and interact with audience members.
Julie Maren and Joy Alice Eisenhauer are the founders of The Women's Art League and creators of Vagina China. The pair was inspired by the prospect of our first female president in 2016 and Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and their project began as a way to celebrate women by creating a commemorative set of White House china with cast vulvas in the center. In their new work, on view at CVA, the collective explores issues related to sex trafficking, connecting this alarming global reality with a centuries older global trade in Asian ceramics.
Women’s Video News Service
Women’s Video News Service was an all-women collective in New York whose membership included Wendy Appel, Rita Ogden, Mary Feldbauer, Susan Kleckner, Carolyn Kreski and Pat de Pew. The group made several politically-motivated documentary videotapes, and formed in response to the limited opportunities and role models for women in the film industry.
Opening Celebration | ATTEND
Thursday, August 1, 6 – 8 pm
Party in the Lot | ATTEND
Friday, August 2, 6 – 9 pm
CVA’s annual summer block party featuring music, art and performances that champion creativity and community. This year’s event celebrates identity, individuality and the myriad ways we can express and shape ourselves.
- Performances by CVA Creative Industries Interns, 6 pm
- Parade of Selves with Secret Love Collective, 6:30 pm
- In Bed By Ten dance party with DJ L.A. Zwicky, 7 – 8:30 pm
SubRosa Artist Talk with Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding | ATTEND
Thursday, September 5, 5 – 6 pm
SubRosa Performance | ATTEND
Friday, September 6, 5:30 – 8 pm
Collectivism Artist Panel | ATTEND
Wednesday, September 18, 5 – 7 pm
Hear how and why these artists work in collectives. Panelists include members of Secret Love Collective, Ladies Fancywork Society, Distill Collective, DMB Collective and Women’s Art League.
Collect This! Secret Love Collective Game Show | ATTEND
Thursday, October 10, 6:30 pm
Participants will collect seemingly random elements in order to make art.
965 Project Gallery:
The 965 Project Gallery presents Synergistically Speaking featuring work by the Black Bar Collective (Denver, CO) and Electric Coffin Collective (Seattle, WA) examining how our individual actions affect the community at large. This exhibition focuses on consumer behavior exploring how shifting social norms can bring about change.
The 965 Project Gallery is a student-led space that provides immersive professional development opportunities to students interested in fine art curation and arts administration.
Center for Visual Art is the off-campus contemporary art center for Metropolitan State University of Denver. CVA provides a year-round schedule of bold, contemporary exhibitions of both local significance and international reach, educational programming open to the community and immersive workforce development for students in creative fields. CVA is free and open to everyone.