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Agnes Denes, The Living Pyramid

Agnes Denes. Photo by Stefan Ruiz, courtesy of the New York Times.

Agnes Denes. Photo by Stefan Ruiz, courtesy of the New York Times.

In 2005, Earthwork artist Agnes Denes, known — according to Interview Magazine — for her “stunning and environmentally confrontational public works,” created her large-scale work Pyramids of Consciousness for Ballroom’s exhibition Treading Water. Three of the pyramids were filled with various substances –– clear water, oil, and polluted water from the Rio Grande. The fourth pyramid was a mirror that allowed viewers to see themselves, and consider their relationship to water and its current environmental concerns.

Last Sunday, Denes presented another large-scale pyramid project, The Living Pyramid, installed on the East River waterfront at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York. The work was created using several tons of soil and planted grasses, and stands 30 feet high and 30 feet wide with the city skyline as its backdrop. Visitors at the opening were invited to participate in planting wildflowers along the outside of the structure, contributing to the pyramid’s growth as it remains on view until August 30th.

In a May interview with Maika Pollack in Interview Magazine, Denes discusses the function of pyramids in her work, as well as the process for her other iconic works such as Wheatfield–A Confrontation (1982) (where she planted and harvested a wheat field on a landfill in lower Manhattan) and Tree Mountain-–A Living Time Capsule, a manmade forest she planted in a mathematical pattern in Ylöjärvi, Finland.

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Typedrummer (Or: How We Spent Five Minutes Translating Our Names Into Beats)

Typedrummer

From the desk of the music director: Fun distraction on a Thursday: Translating our names (Liz, Laura, Nicki, Dan, Susan, Katherine) into ASCII beats via Typedrummer. Susan’s wins.

Sam Falls Limited Edition Vinyl from Ballroom Marfa

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Created in collaboration with a group of musicians, this limited edition, blue-marbled vinyl stems from a sound piece by Sam Falls, which plays on a loop in Ballroom Marfa’s gallery as part of his 2015 solo exhibition. The limited edition record features a woman’s voice repeating the word “now” alongside simple chords played by four musicians. The LP that plays in the exhibition contains a thin metal strip that causes the record to skip, creating an original composition with each rotation. This sound work speaks to another work in the show, Falls’ video piece Untitled (Now), where he continuously writes the word ‘now’ into sand with a stick before it gets repeatedly washed away by waves at the ocean shore. Together the works reflect the artist’s interest in capturing the passage of time and its elements, providing viewers with various mediums in which to consider the present.

20150407_BM_Falls_218 Sam Falls
Untitled (Now, record), 2015
12” Vinyl LP with turntable and speakers
17 x 13 x 5 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Ballroom Marfa
Photo © Fredrik Nilsen

“I wanted to visualize how we can see or hear time as it passes to be reminded of its unified past, present, and future; every moment is ‘now,’ or will be ‘now,’ or was ‘now.’ ‘Now’ is a temporal shifter as I see it, and so these works regenerate the word to inform the moment both as specific and as the works progress elliptically ‘now’ becomes abstracted and wholly representational.” — Excerpt from Sam Falls artist statement

Click here to read more in the Ballroom Marfa shop. See more of our limited editions here.

Sheer Mag Jam (Because It’s Friday)

From the desk of the music director: Can’t get enough of Sheer Mag’s “Fan the Flames” — this video is carrying us through Friday. More info about the band here, and thanks to Dan Chamberlin (and Pitchfork) for the heads up. All hail Philly teen punks!

Steve Earle and the Dukes in Marfa!

Steve Earle and John Prine singing Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta” at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee on October 26, 2013. As the video says: Bless you, John and Steve.

Ballroom Marfa is proud to present Steve Earle and the Dukes at the Crowley Theater on June 14, 2015.

A protégé of legendary songwriters Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Earle quickly became a master storyteller in his own right, with his songs being recorded by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, The Pretenders, Joan Baez, and many others. 1986 saw the release of his debut album, Guitar Town, which shot to number one on the country charts. What followed was a varied array of releases including the biting hard rock of Copperhead Road (1988), the minimalist beauty of Train A Comin’ (1995), the politically charged masterpiece Jerusalem (2002), and the Grammy Award-winning albums The Revolution Starts…Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007), and Townes (2009).

On his 16th studio album, Terraplane, Earle pays tribute to the blues, influenced by the blues giants he saw growing up in Texas — Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddy King, Johnny Winter, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Canned Heat, and Billy Gibbons. Recorded in Nashville, the new collection is his homage to the music that he calls “the commonest of human experience, perhaps the only thing that we all truly share,” and a record he has wanted to make for a long time.

It has long been a dream of ours to bring Earle to Far West Texas; we hope you can join us for this special evening with a country legend. Ballroom Marfa members and tri-county residents can purchase tickets for $15 by stopping by or calling the Ballroom Marfa gallery until May 1. Tickets are available to the general public for $30 at the Ballroom Marfa website.

Explore Steve Earle’s canon on YouTube (his 1991 concert at McCabe’s is heartbreaking), and read BOMB Magazine‘s interview with him from 1998.

Steve Earle singing “Darling Commit Me” from the documentary Heartworn Highways (that’s John Hiatt in the red sweater!).

Dev Hynes + Carly Rae Jepsen (Because It’s Thursday)

To celebrate the forthcoming weekend: A slice of ’80s pop love from Carly Rae Jepsen of “Call Me Maybe” fame (we are fans, of course), cowritten with Dev Hynes, who was just here a few weeks ago doing his recording residency as part of Marfa Myths.

Thank You + Marfa Myths Polaroids by Alex Marks

We just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who came out to Marfa Myths last weekend, and everyone who made it possible. The festival was beyond our wildest dreams, and we can’t believe it actually happened. We’ll be doing a proper wrap-up soon, and adding all the photos, from Alex Marks and Luis Nieto Dickens (our former intern [!] who traveled down to shoot for Oak NYC), but first we want to share these amazing Polaroids, taken by Alex Marks, part of our ongoing Polaroid portrait series. They kind of capture it all.

Dev Hynes and Connan Mockasin by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Grouper by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Grouper by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Co La by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

GABI by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Weyes Blood by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Weyes Blood by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Suicideyear by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Bitchin' Bajas by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Steve Gunn by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Steve Gunn by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Gregg Kowalsky by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Thug Entrancer by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Tamaryn by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Iceage by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

Iceage by Alex Marks, Marfa, Texas, March 14, 2015.

An Artist Statement from Sam Falls

Video still from Untitled (Now), 2014

Video still from Untitled (Now), 2014

A solo exhibition of Falls’ work will open at Ballroom Marfa on March 13, 2015.

This show comes from a few different ideas and places, one of which is the influence of Donald Judd and Marfa. It was my second trip to Marfa that struck me most, the unchanging nature of the place and sculptures, and while my own work has always been informed by minimal aesthetics and continues to be, the element I knew I wanted to incorporate, especially with my sculpture was change. This change has entered my work through incorporating the environment, so that the art reflects time and place, rather than denying or defying it. The reciprocal object exposed to time and environment beyond the artwork is the viewer. The piece which most readily responds to all these issues is the outdoor sculpture made from a 1984 Ford Ranger. When I moved from New York to California in 2011 I bought a new Ford Ranger, so in conceiving this sculpture I first wanted to find the same model truck from the year I was born. The truck had at some point been repainted red from its original tan color, and as humans regenerate their skin cells every seven years, I reversed the process on the truck and had it sandblasted in a random patter down to tan lines and then all the way to steel. Some of the panels of the truck were clear-coated to preserve the visible “skins” of the truck, while others are left to rust in the elements, exposed. The “life” of the truck was removed and repurposed with a new life, substituting the engine block with a marble block and potted cactuses, and the truck bed became a soil bed of succulents native to southern North America. As the copper pots of the cacti oxidize they’ll leave their mark on the white marble, and the succulents inside the truck and in the bed will take on the heart and purpose of the machine, growing with the environment and viewers.

The works on linen in the show were hand dyed on-site in Marfa and left outside to fade in the sunlight, creating images that were masked out by minimal shapes in pictographic images from the ancient Chinese tangram game. The idea came to fruition when reading Judd’s 1994 essay Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular, namely near the end when he states:

“Color of course can be an image or a symbol, as is the peaceful blue and white, often combined with olive drab, but these are no longer present in the best art. By definition, images and symbols are made by institutions. A pair of colors that I knew of as a child in Nebraska was red and black, which a book said was the “favorite” of the Lakota. In the codices of the Maya, red and black signify wisdom and are the colors of scholars.”

I had already begun working with the tangram puzzles but not found the perfect situation for their form. I wanted to use the images on the fabric and then create tables with the game pieces in their resting assembled rectangular form. I was always interested in the divide between Judd’s furniture and artwork, how the designs were quite similar but separated by space and function. In this work the tables function first as productive tools for the artwork, and then secondarily as furniture. I also wanted to mix the media, using some industrial materials that would weather (copper and bronze), along with more static and classical material (marble). The quote above led me to take interest in the history of tangrams and source Chinese marble for the project, while also using the colors red and black in a site specific homage to Judd. The other works on linen are also durational and natural “photograms” which came about in Marfa after seeing the cattle fences everywhere, the grid appearing even out in the middle of the country. I wanted to work with something so familiar to rural Texas as well as the aesthetics of art history, an American theme ever-present in everyday life, its representation, and its abstraction.

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Sam Falls at Fondazione Giuliani Gallery

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Sam Falls
Untitled, 2014; works in progress, artist’s studio, Los Angeles

A solo exhibition of recent work by Sam Falls opened last week at Fonazione Giuliani gallery in Rome, Italy. The show, on view until April 18th, combines natural elements, such as the moon and the tides, with time-based art practices, highlighting our relationship to what Falls describes as the “gravitational pull of life.”

He presents a series of ‘Moon artworks’ created by dripping wax onto images of the moon in different phases to create prints illustrating its cycle and the residue of the candles he used in the full time they took to burn. He also exhibits new ‘Helium pieces,’ which display helium in two different physical states; one as seen through electric light and another in balloon form. In his statement he describes the helium works and their relationship to the larger conceptual threads throughout the show:

“Most excitingly, the electricity lets us see the color of helium and the balloon gives it form, it is truly representational and quite abstract – I don’t know which one tips the scale and this back and forth gives the work its gravity. The forms of the glass are line tracings of the sides of my family and friends, myself, my dogs. The works show the microcosm of aging; buoyed up in the beginning, full of energy and life, dropping down to a perfect state with time, then eventually resting on the ground, deflated. What has been continues to burn and the balloons serve as a memory of what was.”

Read more at Fondazione Giuliani. A solo exhibition by Falls will open here at Ballroom Marfa on March 13, 2015.

Prada Marfa Update: Restoration Underway

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Restoration is underway at Prada Marfa, as Deputy Director Katherine Shaugnessy reports back with these photos from outside of Valentine. The work on Elmgreen and Dragset’s installation will continue over the next few weeks as we replace the awnings and glass that were damaged in the 2014 site vandalism.

For more information on Prada Marfa — including an official clarification of our policy regarding its maintenance — take a look at our Prada Marfa Explainer.

Prada Marfa Repair 5

Prada Marfa Repair 3

Prada Marfa Repair 2

Prada Marfa Repair 1