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Torolab: One Degree Celsius

torolab


Torolab: One Degree Celsius
August 25 – October 4, 2008 | CAM East Gallery

DOWNLOAD Exhibition Catalogue PDF

See the Walkthrough and Colloquium at our Media Gallery

 

One Degree Celsius is part a series of projects called Molecular Urbanism developed by Torolab, a Tijuana-based consortium of artists, architects and designers. For USFCAM the artist collective morphs the gallery space into an actual proposal and a laboratory for creative experiments investigating the multiple uses of a garden. The exhibition includes beautifully drawn proposals for large-scale architectural interventions (on the USF campus and downtown Tampa), displayed with functional sculptural elements. Illustrating a system of insertions and communications, the artists envision the creation of multiple bio-ecological environments within specific architectural urban voids, intended to have a transformative long-term positive impact upon the local climate, human interaction and disposition, and the city’s physical and socio-cultural condition. This commissioned museum installation is staged in conjunction with the colloquium Art as a Catalyst for Social Transformation. Curated by Izabel Galliera.

 

Torolab installation at USFCAM
Torolab install at CAM

 


Film Screenings: Socially-Engaged Artistic Practices
August 25 – October 4 | CAM East Gallery

The selected series of three films: Park Fiction – Desires Will Leave the House and Take to the Streets (1999) directed by Margit Czenki; THIRD WARD TX (2007) directed and photographed by Andrew Garrison; and Water Water (2005) by Navjot Altaf, illustrate various socially-engaged art projects. Each work manifests diverse artistic interventions and collaborative methods employed by artists to engage specific communities and address particular social, economic and political issues. Whether in Houston’s Third Ward Texas, Hamburg, Germany, or Bastar, India, artists actively engage various constituencies, aiming to improve quality of life.

Screenings held at USFCAM East Gallery | August 25 – October 4, 2008

Park Fiction – Desires Will Leave the House and Take to the Streets (1999)
Screening Times:
Mondays and Wednesday at 10am, 1pm, 3pm
Fridays at 10am, 2pm
Saturday at 1pm

Film-collage | 60min | English Voice Over |16 mm blow up from Super 8
Directed by Margit Czenki
Texts, collages and backdrop painting by Christoph Schäfer
Camera: Martin Gressmann, Margit Czenki
Music & sound collage by: Ted Gaier, Schorsch Kamerun
Starring: Park Fiction activists, the clever Hafenrand-Club and Schorsch Kamerun as a salesman.

Third Ward TX (2007)
Screening Times:
Mondays and Wednesday at 11am, 2pm, 4pm
Fridays at 11am, 3pm
Saturday at 2pm

Documentary Film | 60min | English
Directed and Photographed by Andrew Garrison
Produced by Nancy Bless, Andrew Garrison & Noland Walker
Edited by Sandra Guardado & Andrew Garrison
Consulting Editor: Ed Radtke | Composer: Noah Bless | Re-Recording Mixer: Tom Hammond
Co-production of Welcome Home Productions, LLC & Houston PBS

Water Water (2005)
Screening Times:
Tuesday and Thursday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm
Fridays 12pm, 4pm
Saturday at 3pm

Compiled Screens for Single Video Projection| 16 min
Created, Directed, Photographed by Navjot Altaf

Accompanying Documentary Material: Interviews with local residents and three Adivasi artists Rajkumar, Shantibai, Gessuram in Kondagaon, Bastar, Central India (2005)
90 min | Original Languages: Hindi and Halbi with Headphones for English Translation
Created and Directed by Navjot Altaf
Screening Times:
Tuesday and Thursday at 10:20pm, 12:20pm, 2:20pm
Fridays 12:20pm
Saturday at 3:20pm

 


 

Colloquium: Art as a Catalyst for Social Transformation
September 12, 2008
MSC2708 USF Marshall Center Plaza Room, USF Tampa

Hosted by the Institute for Research in Art, College of Visual and Performing Arts
University of South Florida
See the Video in our Media Gallery

The USF Institute for Research in Art hosts scholars, curators, artist collectives, architects, and social scientists in a one-day colloquium on art as catalyst for social transformation in contemporary society. Structured more as a platform for questioning and debate and less as a lecture series, the discourse is meant to focus on the multifaceted implications of socially-engaged art. The colloquium is meant to address the aesthetic considerations and implicit cross-disciplinary collaborations that such projects entail, as they take form within the broader socio-political and economic contexts. Ultimately, colloquium participants attempt to address the role of the artist and the contemporary art institution in formulating a sustained relationship within communities.
 
Generally, socially-engaged art or using Grant Kester’s term, ‘dialogic’ art practice, is focused on a process-based approach rather than the traditions of object making; artists are seen more as context facilitators and less as content providers; and aesthetic value is formulated and achieved through dialog and collaborative production. Specifically, dialogic art practice takes place on various levels and has different outcomes, being contingent upon and determined by the specific histories, identities and goals of the participants. The role of the traditional art institution, critic and art historian is questioned when considering different types of dialogical art practice. The colloquium combines critical analyses with artists’ case studies bringing together leading scholars from various disciplines and artists to engage in a multidimensional discourse on the subject.
 
Various issues addressed will be centered on such questions as: How do artists working in a socially-engaged art practice formulate sustainable working relationships within their communities? What are the varied implications between art practices developed through long-term relationships within communities, and art projects that passively call attention to poignant issues within communities? How do we understand the aesthetic significance of the collaborative process itself? What is the aesthetic value of socially-engaged art and community-based art, which is most often formed through collaboration and dialog?  What are the many different types of socially-engaged art? How can art institutions create viable ways to engage in a sustained relationship with varied audiences and communities? Furthermore what fundamental changes and restructuring are art institutions required to make in order to support artists working in socially- engaged art practice?    

 

PROGRAM

9:00 – 9:30 | Welcome & Introductions           
 
Morning Panel Presentations & Discussion:
 
9:30 – 10:00 | Presenter: Raúl Cárdenas Osuna founder of Torolab, a Tijuana-based collective established in 1995. Torolab is a collective workshop and laboratory of contextual studies that identifies situations or phenomena of interest for research. Through their investigations Torolab aims to enhance “quality of life”, starting with their own. Raúl will speak about the collective’s series of projects under the umbrella name of ‘Molecular Urbanism.’

10:00 – 10:15 | Respondent: Wendy Babcox, Assistant Professor of Photography, USF School of Art and Art History. British born multi-media artist, Wendy’s work examines language and spectacle through a variety of ploys. Wendy is a member of 6+Women’s Collective, whose goal is to explore different possibilities for artistic cooperation across great distances, both geographic and cultural, finding connections between apparently distant locations and experiences, while at the same time creating a space for difference. She will respond to Raul’s presentation, addressing issues of border crossing and complex negotiations across different cultural contexts from the perspective and her working experiences as a member of the 6+Women Collective.
Discussion among respondent and presenter   
 
10:30 – 11:00 | Presenter: Rick Lowe, artist and founder of Project Row Houses, an arts and cultural organization located in Houston’s historic Third Ward neighborhood. According to The New York Times, Project Row Houses “may be the most impressive and visionary public art project in the country.” Rick Lowe will speak about Project Row Houses as well as some of his recent collaborative art projects. 

11:00 – 11:15 | Respondent: Dr. Margarethe Kusenbach, Assistant Professor, USF Department of Sociology. Her current research focuses on urban and community sociology, social psychology and social problems.  In 2007 she received a major grant to conduct an interdisciplinary study of community resources and disaster resilience in Florida mobile home parks.  Dr. Kusenbach will respond to Rick Lowe’s presentation by speaking about urban communities and people’s interactions in their home territories from a sociologist perspective.
Discussion among respondent and presenter
 
11:30– 12:15 | Open Dialog among all panelists and Q&A with the audience
 
12:15 – 2:00 | LUNCH BREAK
 
Afternoon Panel Presentations & Discussion:
 
2:00 – 2:30 | Presenter: Laurie Palmer, Associate Professor and Chair of Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her current work and research investigates the privatization of collective resources (including land, space, raw materials) and strategies for initiating public conversations.

2:30 – 3:00 | Respondent: Shannon Bassett, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the USF School of Architecture and Community Design. She has a research interest in cultural and regional landscapes and dynamic topographies and how they interface with urbanism.   Her work intersects with the theoretical exploration of alternative methods and practices in designing and reading the city.

Respondent: Dr. Elizabeth Strom, Director, Urban and Regional Planning and Associate Professor, Department of Geography. Her current work examines cities that have developed cultural facilities as part of their downtown revitalization strategies. She also has a research interest is in universities and cultural institutions as urban political actors.
Discussion among respondents and presenter
 
3:00 – 3:30 | Presenter: Dr. Grant Kester, Chair and Associate Professor of Art History in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Kester is an art historian and critic whose research focuses on socially-engaged art practice, the visual culture of American reform movements, and aesthetic theory. His talk is titled Collaborative Art Practice in an Adivasi Village.

3:30 – 3:45 | Respondent: Dr. Alan Moore, has spent most of his life in New York City, writing about art, making it (videos), organizing shows, and studying art’s histories. During the 2007-2008 academic year, he taught Critical Theory and Contemporary Art, here at the USF School of Art and Art History. As he travels to teach, he explores local cultural communities and their geographies. He has recently completed a book manuscript, “Collectivities” on New York City artist groups.
Discussion among respondent and presenter
 
4:00 – 4:45 | Open Dialog among all panelists and Q&A with the audience

 

PARTICIPANTS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Wendy Babcox is currently Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of South Florida. He received her MFA from the University of Florida. Babcox’s work looks largely at the visual politics of women’s laughter and female transgression. Her photography, video, and performance, often engages notions of carnivalesque, vaudeville-style performance, surveillance, masquerade, and the role of the tourist in contemporary culture. Recent exhibitions and performances include Miami Beach Cinematheque and Transmodern Festival, Baltimore. Babcox is a member of 6+ a Women’s Art Collective whose mission and work is about “finding connections between apparently distant locations and experiences, while at the same time creating a space for difference.”
 
Shannon Bassett is currently Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the USF School of Architecture and Community Design. She holds a Masters of Architecture in Urban Design (MAUD) from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and a Bachelors of Architecture with Distinction from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Bassett has a research interest in cultural and regional landscapes and dynamic topographies and how they interface with urbanism. Her work intersects with the theoretical exploration of alternative methods and practices in designing and reading the city. Recent publications include an article for Canadian Architect exploring the remediation of a post-industrial brown field site of a former paper mill in Ottawa Canada and its possible remediation and retooling into a post-industrial economic engine and important cultural landscape for the nation's capital. She has lectured internationally including in Beijing, China last fall at the International Forum on Sustainable Urbanism Conference organized by the Berlage (Rotterdam) and the Technical University of Delft, held at the Tsinghua University School of Architecture.   
 
Dr. Grant Kester is Chair and Associate Professor of Art History, in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego. Kester's publications include Art, Activism and Oppositionality: Essays from Afterimage (Duke University Press, 1998) and Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (University of California Press, 2004, Chinese translation 2006). His forthcoming book, The One and the Many: Agency and Identity in Collaborative Art, presents a theoretical framework for the analysis of collective and collaborative art practice. Kester has worked as a curator for projects including Ruins in Reverse: Time and Progress in Contemporary Art (CEPA Gallery, 1999), Unlimited Partnerships: Collaboration in Contemporary Art (CEPA Gallery, 2000), and Groundworks: Environmental Collaboration in Contemporary Art (Carnegie Mellon University, 2005). His essays have been published in The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell, 2005), Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell, 2004), Poverty and Social Welfare in America: An Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio, 2004), Politics and Poetics: Radical Aesthetics for the Classroom (St. Martins Press, 1999), the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (Oxford University Press, 1998), Ethics, Information and Technology: Readings (McFarland, 1997) and Photo Manifesto: Contemporary Photography in the USSR (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1991) as well as journals including Afterimage, Variant (Scotland), FOCAS (Singapore), Public Art Review, Exposure, Mix (Canada), the Nation, New Art Examiner, Third Text, Social Text and Art Papers.

Dr. Margarethe Kusenbach is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of South Florida. She received a Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA in 2003 and began teaching at University of South Florida the same year. Her current research focuses on issues of community and on social aspects of hurricanes.  In 2007 she received an NSF grant to conduct an interdisciplinary study of community resources and disaster resilience in Florida mobile home parks. Dr. Kusenbach’s other areas of interest include urban neighborhoods and culture, emotions, and qualitative research methods.  She has published papers in the journals City & Community, Symbolic Interaction, Qualitative Sociology, Forum Qualitative Social Research (FQS), Ethnography, and Studies in Symbolic Interaction, as well as several book chapters. She is also working on two co-authored books.

Rick Lowe is the founder of Project Row Houses, an arts and cultural organization located in Houston’s historically significant and culturally charged Third Ward neighborhood. Lowe has also participated in exhibitions and public art projects internationally. He collaborated with arts consultant Jessica Cusick on the Arts Plan for the Rem Koolhaus designed Seattle Public Library; worked with artists Suzanne Lacy and curator Mary Jane Jacobs on the Borough Project for Spoleto Festival 2003, in Charleston, South Carolina; was lead artist on the Delray Beach Cultural Loop, Delray Beach, Florida, and in 2005, he worked with the British architect, David Adjaye, on a project for the Seattle Art Museum in their new Olympic Sculpture Park. Lowe’s own work has been exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona; Contemporary Arts Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Korea; and the Kumamoto State Museum, Kumamoto, Japan. Lowe has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work, including the American Institute of Architecture Keystone Award; the Rudy Bruner Awards in Urban Excellence; the Brandywine Lifetime Achievement Award; the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Governors Award. Lowe was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University from September 2001-June 2002, and an Osher Fellow at the Exploratorium, in San Francisco. Lowe serves on the board of the Menil Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
 
Dr. Alan Moore received a Ph.D. in art history from the City University of New York, where his dissertation focused on New York City artists’ organizations between 1969 and 1984. Moore has published several articles on artists’ groups and cultural districts, as well as numerous exhibition reviews.  In the 1970s and 1980s he was active in the artists’ group Colab and the cultural center ABC No Rio in New York City. In 1985 Moore, co-edited with Marc Miller, ABC No Rio Dinero: Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery. His recent publications include: “Local History: The Art of Battle for Bohemia in New York” co-published with James Cornwell for Alternative Art New York: 1965-1985 (Julie Ault, editor, University of Minnesota Press, 2003); “Political Economy as Subject and Form in Modern Art” for Review of Radical Political Economics (Fall 2004); “Being There: The Tribeca Neighborhood of Franklin Furnace” co-published with Debra Wacks, for The Drama Review (Spring 2005); chapter on New York and U.S. artists’ groups in Collectivism After Modernism (Blake Stimson and Greg Sholette, eds., University of Minnesota Press, 2007); and an introduction “ Welcome to Our Resistance: The What and Why of the Tompkins Square Park Rebellion” to Resistance: A Radical Social and Political History of the Lower East Side (Clayton Patterson, et al. eds., Seven Stories Press, NY, 2007).

Raúl Cardenas Osuna is the founder of Torolab, a Tijuana-based collective workshop and laboratory of contextual studies that identifies situations or phenomena of interest for research. Established in 1995, Torolab creates projects that address the politics and poetics of various social phenomena, urban spaces and artistic languages. Osuna received a BA in Architecture from the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Tijuana and a MFA from the University of California at San Diego, in California. Torolab’s work has been shown nationally and internationally at various venues including: Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; LAXART, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; PS1, New York; Center of Architecture, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City; The Tijuana Cultural Center, Tijuana; Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; Liverpool Biennial 2004, Liverpool; Beijing 2004 Biennial of Architecture, Beijing; Havana Biennial 2003, Cuba; and the 2002 Montreal Biennial, Canada.

Laurie Palmer is currently Associate Professor and Chair of Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She received a BA from Williams College and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Palmer’s interdisciplinary practice includes sculpture, public art, and writing, and a long-term collaboration with the artists' collective Haha. Recent projects question the privatization of land and other shared resources through collective acts of imagining and initiations of public discourse. Most recently, she has been visiting and writing about sites of industrial mineral extraction in the U.S. and is working on a book organized around this research. She has exhibited both individual and collaborative work in the US and in Europe, and published her writing in journals and catalogs. She has received invaluable support from the Illinois Arts Council, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the Driehaus Foundation, the Graham Foundation, and the Radcliffe Institute, among other grantors. A book documenting Haha's work, With Love from Haha, was published in June 2008 by WhiteWalls Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

Dr. Elizabeth Strom’s past research has analyzed urban planning decisions in Berlin after Germany’s reunification as well as the economic development challenges facing the industrial cities of the United States. Results of her Berlin research have been published in Building the New Berlin: The Politics of Urban Development in Germany’s Capital, published by Lexington Books in 2001. Her current work examines cities that have developed cultural facilities as part of their downtown revitalization strategies, and she has carried out case studies on downtown redevelopment in a number of US cities as part of a larger project funded by the Knight Foundation. She is also interested in universities, cultural institutions and other nonprofits as urban political actors. Dr. Strom holds a BA from Swarthmore College, a Masters of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and both an MA and PhD from the City University of New York. Her work has been published in the Journal of Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Review, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, German Politics and Society, and European Urban and Regional Research, and Review of Policy Research. Before joining the USF Department of Geography, Dr. Strom was Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University-Newark.


 

Related Links:

Project Row Houses, Houston Texas

Torolab, Tijuana

Community Stepping Stones, Tampa, Florida

3 Rivers 2nd Nature Project (2000-2005) by Tim Collins and Reiko Goto

 

Additional Readings:

Art in Rebuilding Community: The Transforma Project in New Orleans
Jan Cohen Cruz

In Houston, Art is Where the Home
Michael Kimmelman
The New York Times, Dec. 17, 2006

The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents (pdf 160KB)
Claire Bishop
ARTFORUM, February, 2006

One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity (pdf 1.8MB)
Miwon Kwon
October, Vol. 80. (Spring, 1997), pp. 85-110.

Conversation Pieces: The Role of Dialogue in Socially-Engaged Art (pdf 176kB)
Dr. Grant Kester
Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985
Edited by Zoya Kucor and Simon Leung
Blackwell, 2005

State and Lake (pdf 67KB)
Laurie Palmer
Essay for catalog for group exhibition “State and Lake” curated by Annie Morse, shown at Gescheidle Gallery, 2006

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Torolab: One Degree Celsius
and Art as A Catalyst for Social Transformation colloquium
were made possible in part by

American Center Foundation

with material support from the
USF Botanical Gardens, Dr. Robert Drapkin, and Worm’s Way

and the Members and Corporate Partners
of the USF Institute for Research in Art.

The USF Contemporary Art Museum would like to thank all the colloquium panelists for their participation and insightful contributions.