NOWHERE is a project whose aim is to recognize that in a century where greater than 50% of the population of the planet is migrating to cities, a rural community can also be a SOMEWHERE of rich cultural, geographic, historic and aesthetic importance. To accomplish this , Rael San Fratello purchased an abandoned store front in Antonito, CO,a town of 772 people—formerly the town pharmacy—and for six months, transformed the space into an open plan that could be used in a variety of ways by and for the local community.
Partnering with an art faculty member from a nearby college, faculty and students began an after-school arts program in the town to supplement the missing art program from the curriculum due to budget cuts. Three art education students worked together to create a three day lesson plan for the high school students. They used the Surrealist movement and contemporary collage artists as inspiration for their lesson.
The lesson had the high school students reflect on who they were as individuals, what was important to them, and what cultural aspects of their life they want to celebrate. The students created large self-portrait collage pieces using abstract photographs that the students took of themselves, paintings that they created, and additional collage materials. The life-size artwork was presented in a community opening at NOWHERE.
NOWHERE continued to promote the arts, craft, design and architecture by combining the work of an invited group of internationally recognized artists with local artists from this region where these allied fields are underrepresented. Among the participating artists were Ehren Tool, Stephanie Syjuco, Future Farmers, Michael C. Rael, Richard Saxton (M12 Collective), Fred Haberlein, Michael Elmgreen, Ingar Dragset, Angela Maestas and Chloe Rossetti.
W. A. Ehren Tool is a ceramist whose work seeks to raise awareness about war. A third-generation soldier who served as a Marine in Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991, Tool began studying drawing when he left the Corps in 1994. His work centers on the production of clay cups, which are decorated with press molds of military medals or bombs and images of war and violence. He often assembles them, broken or intact, into installations or uses them in videos, and then gives them away (thousands to date) as a way to provoke conversations about war.
Fred “Thunder Heart” Haberlein grew up on a desolate ranch outside Antonito, Colorado. Starting in 1978, he began a series of murals in towns across the country—many of which can be found in Antonito. Today there are nearly 125 murals by Haberlein, more than any other U.S. artist has created single-handedly. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Colorado Mountain College in Glennwood Springs. His mural of historic downtown Antonito, painted in the mid 1980′s is a permanent installation at NOWHERE.
Michael Elmgreen (born 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969 in Trondheim, Norway), based in Berlin and London, have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2011), ZKM Museum of Modern Art in Karlsruhe (2010), MUSAC in Léon (2009), The Power Plant in Toronto (2006), Serpentine Gallery (2006) and Tate Modern (2004) in London, and Kunsthalle Zürich (2001). Their work has been included in the Liverpool (2012), Singapore (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Gwangju (2002), São Paulo (2002), Istanbul (2001), and Berlin (1998) biennials, and in 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition “The Collectors” in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Amongst their most well known works are “Prada Marfa” (2005) – a full scale replica of a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert, and “Short Cut” (2003) – a car and a caravan breaking through the ground which was first shown in Milan and now resides in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Their piece, Powerless Structures, Fig. 19 (1998), comprised of two pairs of Calvin Klein underwear inside two pairs of faded blue jeans was exhibited at NOWHERE.
Futurefarmers is a group of diverse practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and place surrounding us. Founded in 1995, our design studio serves as a platform to support art projects, an artist in residence program and our research interests. They are artists, researchers, designers, architects, scientists and farmers with a common interest in creating frameworks for exchange that catalyze moments of “not knowing”. While they collaborate with scientists and are interested in scientific inquiry, we want to ask questions more openly. Science asks questions to find “answers” and seeks to find a methodology to answer the next question, while we ask questions to seek more questions. Through participatory projects, we create spaces and experiences where the logic of a situation disappears – encounters occur that broaden, rather than narrow perspectives, i.e. reductionist science. Their work employs various media to create work that has the potential to destabilize logics of “certainty”. We deconstruct systems such as food policies, public transportation and rural farming networks to visualize and understand their intrinsic logics. Often through this disassembly they find new narratives and potential reconfigurations that propose alternatives to the principles that once dominated these systems. Their work provides a playful entry point and tools for participants to gain insight into deeper fields of inquiry- not only to imagine, but to participate in and initiate change in the places they live.
Michael C. Rael is a photographer living in the high alpine desert of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. His work documenting the landscapes of this region, and his book Sentinel in Sight, which presents seasonal images of Cerro San Antonio—the largest freestanding mountain in the continental United States—are presented in NOWHERE.
Stephanie Syjuco creates large-scale spectacles of collected cultural objects, cumulative archives, and temporary vending installations, often with an active public component that invites viewers to directly participate as producers or distributors. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials. This has included starting a global collaborative project with crochet crafters to counterfeit high-end consumer goods; presenting a parasitic art counterfeiting event, “COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone” for Frieze Projects, London (2009); and “Shadowshop,” an alternative vending outlet embedded at SFMOMA exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work (2010-11).
Born in the Philippines, she received her MFA from Stanford University and BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, and included in exhibitions at MoMA/P.S.1, the Whitney Museum of American Art, SFMOMA, ZKM Center for Art and Technology, Germany; Z33 Space for Contemporary Art, Belgium; UniversalStudios Gallery Beijing; The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, among others. In 2007 she led counterfeiting workshops in Istanbul and in 2009 contributed proxy sculptures for MOMA/P.S.1′s joint exhibition, “1969.” She has taught at Stanford University, The California College of the Arts, UC Berkeley, The San Francisco Art Institute, and Carnegie Mellon University. A recipient of a 2009 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award, she lives and works in San Francisco.
Angela Maestas is a multi-media artist from the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Her work draws upon images and materials from her Spanish-American culture and the rural landscapes of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
“To Search” was a durational performance conducted by Chloe Rosetti on Saturday, August 3rd, 2013, at NOWHERE. Immediately prior to the performance, she collected rocks from the earth around NOWHERE, and, over the course of two hours and 13 minutes, proceeded to arrange the rocks to spell the phrase, “TO SEARCH IN THE ENIGMA OF HOURS FOR THAT TRULY HIDDEN SEED,” excerpted from a tablet in Franck André Jamme’s *New Exercises ’08*: “TO SEARCH IN THE ENIGMA OF HOURS FOR THE TRULY HIDDEN SEED THAT NO SOONER PULVERIZED BECOMES THE BREAD OF THOSE WHO EAT NOT TO PERISH.” After each word was composed it was immediately erased, the rocks returning to the pile. Behind the action was an hour-long projection of found images that I had composed, featuring a range of imagery—meat in an abattoir, gloved hands gluing a vase back together, a black and white performance of two hands relating, a diagram of the entrance and exit wound of a bullet, diagrams of the eye, ear and tear duct, the braces-filled mouth of a smiling teen, dressed-up people dancing, and so on. Playing on loop during the performance was a specially composed soundscape by Taja Cheek, featuring crickets, crackling fire, looped piano, waves, wordless vocals, bird calls, guitar riffs and rain. The sounds swell up and fade out over one another, until all becomes quiet. During the performance the loop occurred just over 13 times. After the performance was over, the rocks were returned to the Antonito earth.
To Search is a meditation on transience and effort, and on the conscience experience of emerging from and being called back into the Source. As each word is fully formed and erased, it becomes difficult to recall the sentence as a whole; one considers whether this matters, whether actions should be taken in sequence, as a kind of story, or as indelible moments in an utterly transient landscape. Poignantly, NOWHERE’s storefront location where she conducted the performance closed a few weeks later.
The property improvements to the former pharmacy allowed an entrepreneur to take ownership of the site of NOWHERE and re-introduce a much needed pharmacy to the local community.
Project Date: 2013
Design Team: Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello
Staff: Laurelin Kruse, Director of Operations
Participating artists: Ehren Tool, Stephanie Syjuco, Future Farmers (Michael Swaine and Amy Franceschini), Michael C. Rael, Richard Saxton (M12 Collective), Fred Haberlein, Michael Elmgreen, Ingar Dragset, Angela Maestas and Chloe Rossetti.