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March 19 2012

Sterling Ruby: Soft Work / Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève / Nuit des Bains

Three times a year the association Quartier des Bains in Geneva, Switzerland organizes the so called “Nuits des Bains”. The galleries of the main gallery district in Geneva present their new exhibitions, while the member institutions are open. On the occasion of the first of three “Nuits des Bains” that take place on the third Thursday in March, May and September each year, VernissageTV had a look some of the exhibitions and documented four of them.

The first is Sterling Ruby’s show Soft Work at the Centre d’Art Contemporain. For his solo show in Geneva, Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby decided to focus on one specific body of work from his multifaceted practice, the “soft sculptures”. The entire gallery space is filled with stuffed fabric objects, hanging from the ceiling and lying on the floor. The site-specific installation is titled SW SET 1.

The Quartier des Bains Association was founded in 2005. In the 1990s, the first galleries opened their spaces in an industrial area around Geneva’s rue des Bains. Today, the Quartier des Bains Association consists of 14 galleries and 4 institutions: Galerie Analix Forever, Art & Public, Blancpain Art Contemporain, BFAS Blondeau Fine Art Services, Galerie Patrick Cramer, Jancou, Patricia Low Contemporary, Mitterrand + Cramer, Galerie Charlotte Moser, Ribordy Contemporary, SAKS, Skopia (P-H Jaccaud), TMproject, Xippas Art Contemporain, Mamco (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain), Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Centre de la photographie Genève, and Médiathèque FMAC. In addition to the “Nuits des Bains”, the Quartier des Bains also runs a competition for a public art intervention. The competition is open to artists invited by the association’s members, the Haute école d’art et de design (HEAD), and the Quartier des Bains partners. The artists design banners and flags that are shown in the streets of Geneva and on Geneva’s Mont-Blanc Bridge. This year, Jonathan Monk won the prize. Previous winners were: Sam Samore, Fabrice Gygi, Ryan Gander, Gianni Motti, Das Institut, and Président Vertut. Finally there’s also the Quartier des Bains’ so called “Nocturne” that take place on April 4, and June 6 this year.

Sterling Ruby: Soft Work / Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève / Nuit des Bains. Geneva / Switzerland, March 15, 2012.

PS: See also: Sterling Ruby: I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE… at Sprüth Magers Berlin.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:


April 11 2011

Sterling Ruby: I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE… at Sprüth Magers Berlin

I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE I CAN BE EXPLODED ANYTIME is the title of a new installation, the Los Angeles based artist Sterling Ruby is currently presenting at the gallery Sprüth Magers in Berlin.

Regular viewers of our program will know the work of Sterling Ruby, as VernissageTV covered several group shows the artist was participating in: Abstract America at Saatchi Gallery, London; Portugal Arte 10, Lisbon; Misericordia at Prism, Los Angeles; and Art 40 Basel Art Unlimited, Basel.

Sterling Ruby’s show at Sprüth Magers Berlin features a large number of works including paintings, collages, and sculptures.The title of the exhibition, I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE I CAN BE EXPLODED ANYTIME, takes its name from a painting that Jenny Holzer and the graffiti artist Lady Pink created collaboratively in 1983.

Sterling Ruby at Sprüth Magers Berlin

Sterling Ruby was born in Bitburg, Germany. He studied at the Pennsylvania School of Art & Design, Lancaster, PA; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; and the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA.

Photo set and press release are available after the jump.

Sterling Ruby: I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE I CAN BE EXPLODED ANYTIME at Sprüth Magers Berlin. Opening reception, April 7, 2011.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

Photo set on Flickr:

Press release:
Sprüth Magers Berlin is pleased to present a new installation, I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE I CAN BE EXPLODED ANYTIME, from Los Angeles based artist Sterling Ruby. The exhibition will feature a large number of works including the artist’s paintings, collages, metal, bronze, ceramic, fiber, urethane and formica sculptures. This paranoid fantasy of an exhibition manifests itself in a series of works that incorporate the letters RWB not only within their titles, but also as a color scheme of red, white, and blue. It should not be necessary to point out that these are the colors that represent the United States of America. In using this acronym the artist creates a powerful dissociative reverie: USA becomes RWB.
The title for the exhibition, I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE I CAN BE EXPLODED ANYTIME, takes its name from a collaborative painting made in 1983 by Jenny Holzer and the graffiti artist Lady Pink. Fascinated by this work for years, Ruby recently found that its self-referential slogan could be contextualized within current political discourse regarding terrorism, a reference to America’s obsession with freedom and whether it is hated for it. Ruby believes that the original work expresses a very real feeling of being caught in a universal war zone, but as with all of Holzer’s cryptic texts it contains an ambiguity, it can also be seen as expressing a kind of paranoid delusion.

The new installation draws a striking parallel to Ruby’s SUPERMAX exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (2008). In this previous exhibition, the artist externalized the failures of the Supermaximum Penitentiary; a contemporary American prison system that focuses on detainment and isolation instead of correction or rehabilitation. Similarly, that exhibition explored the artist’s creative output as paranoia.

The amount and variety of the works point to an excessive and schizophrenic personality, as if the very creation of this large volume of works held unseen predatory forces at bay. In the SUPERMAX exhibition the artist presented a claustrophobic installation that expressed the feeling of being incarcerated or trapped.

Throughout his practice, Ruby has been seeking ways to break from the traps inherent to the history of art making and society at large, a new way out. I AM NOT FREE BECAUSE I CAN BE EXPLODED ANYTIME shows Ruby seeking a visionary revelation through an explosion of formalism that expresses a prophetic paranoia.


July 26 2010

Portugal Arte 10: Public Art Projects in Downtown Lisbon

The cornerstone of Portugal Arte 10 EDP is a series of public art projects that are installed throughout downtown Lisbon. Three distinct areas, Chiado, Baixa, and Avenida Liberdade, host these works. Los Angeles-based architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of JohnstonMarkLee architectural firm were instrumental in examining these areas defining characteristics and placing the works of art in ways which either reinforce the urban condition, or challenges it by creating a new way of experiencing a neighborhood.

Among the artworks on display are Temple by Faile; untitled works by Sterling Ruby; Grid Ripper, Aluminum Box and Bronze Canon by Sterling Ruby; Point of View by Ivan Capote; Eggs by Martha Freidman; Bench by Jim Drain; and Burghers of Calais by Nathan Mabry.

In this video, Artistic Director Stefan Simchowitz talks about the the public art projects of Portugal Arte 10 and how the people in the streets reacted to the works.

See also: Portugal Arte 10 / International Survey of Contemporary Art in Lisbon, Portugal and Artist Collective FAILE’s Temple at Portugal Arte 10, Lisbon.

Photos of the exhibition after the jump.

Portugal Arte 10, Public Art Projects. July 16-18, 2010.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

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