Monday, January 13, 2014

And how are we feeling today? at the UCSD University Art Gallery

By Joe Nalven

The premise of this UCSD Art Gallery exhibit is about the nuance of feeling.  But not disconnected feeling.  Feeling framed as capital, the economy, and commodity. 

How do we feel about capital?  What are the "economies of affect" and what is our emotional response to objects that provoke us in this way?

For me, I drift off and think about the quest for a living wage, about the frenzy for penny stocks in the movie Wolf of Wall Street, the effects of long-term unemployment from an economy burdened by  overregulation, about the stereotypes of poverty being confronted by Alessandra Pelosi and Bill Marr, and the partisan divide for how we can cure these ills. What remains is a malaise in the quest to locate the good life.
University Art Gallery

So many things to think about. But how do I feel about them? 
I think, therefore I feel.  Very curious.

Melanie Gilligan / Self-Capital (3 episodes)

That is the position of the viewer confronted by these objects.  How should I (or you) feel about them?  How would you feel about them?

Mierle Laderman Ukeles  /  (detail) Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an exhibition "CARE" (1969)  

There is an interesting conversation that awaits the viewer - a conversation with the artist through the object, a conversation with oneself and if you find the curator, Michelle Hyun at the gallery, having  a conversation with her.  Hyun is very much open to discussing these objects, but at the end, she messages: "How do you FEEL about your everyday life, your place in this world?" Good point.

Reena Katz (aka Radiodress)  /  use     hold     strike: proposed sounds for collective grieving (2012)
In a separate room, there are more than a dozen hanging pipes with text about lives that have been grieved; the pipes can be struck with a small mallet, creating a soundscape - an "improvised soundscape for collective grieving." The smallness of the enclosed room intensifies the feeling and perhaps best illuminates the primary exhibit (what is the word for a sound that illuminates?) The largeness of the main exhibit area allows the exhibits separation from each other, but at the cost of not forcing or encouraging  the viewer to become emotionally attached - the exhibits in the main gallery are more intellectualized when compared to the soundscape. 

Feminist Economics Department / Fedora Archive / How much is this worth? (Upper and lower objects)
A caveat of sorts:  What if the frame of reference had been religion - a significant competitor to an economic framing of feelings?  Or other frames of reference? Race? Gender? Biology? etc. as well as how these intersect with each other.  Or even if the question about capital had been framed across the millennia, across social complexities of foraging, tribal and the modern state? 

The objects in this exhibit are mostly about us -  middle to upper-middle class Western-oriented consumers.  This is not a criticism of an economic framing of feeling, but simply a reminder as one walks the exhibit that there can be many more such exhibits framed geared to how feelings are experienced in other lands, at other times. That may be obvious, but it is easy to forget the compartmentalization one inhabits at any given moment. 

And how are we feeling today?
Curated by Michelle Huyn, Design by Stephen Serrato
The artists in this exhibit are:  Nina Canell, the Feminist Economics Department (the FED), Melanie Gilligan, Vishal Jugdeo, Reena Katz aka Radiodress, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Anna Sew Hoy and Wages for Facebook, Laurel Ptak.
The contributors of this exhibition variously consider our current structure of feeling through experiments with relationality. Empathic relations expand to electromagnetic waves of radio frequency and other imperceptible scales of matter. Demonstrations of other sensory modes, such as the aural and haptic, induce empathy through operations of resonance, absorption, and support. Simulated spaces of affective exchange introduce rupture into capitalism’s psychic and biopolitical dimensions. Proposals for action address certain forms of affect production, in which carework are both paternalistic and feminist political formulations, and social media is self-service as well as unwaged labor.

The exhibit runs through February 14, 2014.

Exhibition hours:
Tuesday & Thursday 11am - 5pm
Wednesday & Friday 11am - 7:30pm
Free Admission
Contact information:  Tel 858-534-2107 / Fax 858-534-3548 / /

Vishal Jugdeo  /  The Thing That Precedes The You  (digital infrared image)

Vishal Jugdeo  /  The Thing That Precedes The You  (Different view from infrared image)

Wages for Facebook:  Workshop & Discussion

Tuesday February 11, 2014  |  5:30 - 7:30pm

The Wages For Facebook campaign will launch for the first time
on the west coast with a discussion-based workshop that engages
a public to think critically about the enormous amount of digital
labor that has become a routine part of our existence online.
Nina Canell / Into the Eyes as Ends of Hair (2012)

Ana Sew Hoy / Tissue Dispensing (for Stom Sogo) (2102)
Feminist Economics Department featuring Cassie Thornton / How I Feel / How Debt Makes Me (2012)

Michelle Hyun deserves considerable credit for curating this exhibit and providing us with points of interest (ah yes, the artists!!) about how our feelings are affected by capital. Stephen Serrato's design makes it easy to segregate each object within an open environment. 

And take a friend when you go to the exhibit.  There are conversations worth having that go beyond oneself and one's habits of feeling.

Note:  The UCSD campus is large and a bit daunting to find parking for first time visitors. Recommendation:  Print out the gallery directions and be prepared to ask for assistance.

All photos by the author, Joe Nalven.

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