THE SHARING PROJECT in sculptures and videos

JOEL TAUBER’S Installation

at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach

By Joel Tauber

JOEL TAUBER, video still from “Happyville”, one of the videos in “The Sharing Project” installation

JOEL TAUBER, video still from “Happyville”, one of the videos in “The Sharing Project” installation

In 1905, Charles Weintraub and a bunch of his Socialist Russian Jewish friends decided to leave New York City and head South. They pooled their savings, took out some loans, and purchased 2200 acres of land near Montmorenci, South Carolina. They didn’t know how to farm, and the land that they purchased wasn’t conducive to farming anyway. But, those minor practical issues didn’t dissuade them. They were determined to realize their dream of living on a Socialist commune.

It’s amazing what the 50 settlers were able to accomplish in Happyville. They grew crops and raised livestock. They built a dam, a water turbine, a saw mill, and a cotton gin. They worked together as equals, and they shared their resources fully.

They made their utopian dream a reality. But, it didn’t last. Unusually severe weather made it even more difficult to grow crops on the sandy soil. And, for whatever reason, not enough of their neighbors wanted to buy their crops and products. They were in debt, and they were forced to sell their land to appease their creditors. In 1908, it was all over. Happyville had disappeared.

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015.

It’s hard for me to share my video equipment or to let anyone into my studio. I tell myself that I would face all kinds of problems if anyone damaged my gear, and that I need peace and solitude in order to work effectively. Yet, my rationalizations leave me feeling guilty. I sense that I’m not acting generously enough, and I worry about what my behavior is teaching my kids.

One day, my son Zeke, crying profusely, banged on my door, and demanded to know why I wouldn’t share my space with him. I didn’t have a good answer. Then, Zeke showed me his secret hiding spots and offered to share them with me. He argued that there was plenty of room in his “office” for my tools and that I didn’t need another space for them. 

Zeke’s generosity overwhelmed me, but I wasn’t able to accept his offer. Safeguarding my personal possessions in my own space was too important to me.

As I tried to justify my feelings, I thought about John Locke’s claim that we should have the freedom to acquire our own land and wealth and that it shouldn’t bother anyone – unless we do so excessively, or during times of scarcity.

Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten about Locke’s restrictions, and we’ve created a tremendous amount of inequity in the process. While a few of us enjoy excessive amounts of wealth, far too many of us struggle with scarcely enough – if anything – to eat.

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015.

The installation features 15 short films plus 21 interviews. The foregrounded video, the one presented on the largest screen, tells the story of Happyville; while the other 14 films operate as a kind of dialogue between Zeke and me about the meaning and challenges of sharing.

Tablet(s) feature 21 experts in different fields offering their thoughts. 

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015.

Audiences explore the videos interactively. They are invited to share their toys and help arrange them in the gallery / museum. Then, at the end of the show, they are invited to take the toys and give them away to whomever they think will enjoy them.

Joel Tauber is an artist and filmmaker who teaches experimental film and orchestrates the video art program at Wake Forest University. His current undertaking – “The Sharing Project” – is both a sculptural video installation and a feature film.

http://thesharingproject.net

 

 

What can the INUIT and NUER teach us about sharing?

― The Sharing Project ―

7. WHAT CAN THE INUIT AND NUER TEACH US ABOUT SHARING?

By Joel Tauber   

I was talking with the anthropologist David Graeber about how Communism forms the baseline of all human interactions, even in the most Capitalistic societies. Communism is a loaded term, but it really should be understood as a kind of transactional morality, where we act according to Louis Blanc’s principle, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.  When we don’t keep track of who is giving what to whom, we are acting in a communistic way.

Sharing, in its purest form, is communistic. It occurs when no one claims exclusive ownership. It happens when people share what they believe belongs to everyone, or to their particular community.

When my son Zeke and his friends play harmoniously with the communal toys at school, they are sharing in a communistic way. When Zeke and his brother Ozzie take turns playing with our family’s communal toys at home, they are also practicing this kind of sharing.

In Greenland, an Inuit once explained to the anthropologist Peter Freuchen why he would be willing to share several hundred pounds of meat with a hunter that hadn’t been as successful: Up in our country we are human! … And since we are human we help each other. We don’t like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.

Since the Inuit hunter believed that everyone has the right to eat, it made no sense for him to claim exclusive ownership of the meat. If the meat is not considered private property, the idea of gifting the meat is nonsensical. Once private ownership is dismissed, it’s only possible to share it in a communistic way.

However, private ownership is not always dismissed.

E.E. Evans-Pritchard and Graeber describe how the Nuer in South Sudan share food and other necessities freely with members of their camp, but they never share their cattle with each other. Indeed, they will literally defend their cattle with their lives.

I was thinking about the Nuer when Zeke invited his friend, Zev, over for a play-date. At the time, Zeke’s prized possession was his guitar. Zev wanted to play with it, and Zeke, quite reasonably, refused. I asked Zeke to share his guitar, even though I had made it clear to both Zeke and Zev that I was not willing to share the camera that I was using to film them. Indeed, I would not even let them touch the camera, fearing that they might damage it. Zeke, probably sensing my inconsistency, clung to his guitar as if his life depended on it. Zev grabbed it too, and they spun around the room. Eventually, Zeke relented. Zeke and Zev took turns playing the guitar, and they both seemed happy. It was beautiful, but I was left feeling like a hypocrite. Why should Zeke share his most special possession when I was not willing to do the same thing?

In the United States, we keep much of our property to ourselves, but we do share certain things in communistic ways. We share office supplies with our co-workers, and we share pretty much everything while camping. We share directions freely with strangers; and we post all kinds of information online for everyone’s benefit, despite new restrictions from Facebook and other corporate entities.

Everyone has the right to enjoy our parks, libraries, and public schools; and, at least for the most part, our air, oceans, lakes, and rivers belong to all of us. There have been attempts to privatize our parks and water, and funding for our schools and libraries are often threatened; yet they still remain part of the public domain. We share their pleasures as well as the responsibilities of maintaining them.

Of course, some of us share a lot more than others. There may not be as many Socialist communes in the United States as there were in other periods, like the 19th century; but they certainly still exist, and people continue to live in them.

I understand the appeal of the Socialist commune, and I’ve fantasized about living in one at different times of my life. When I was 18, I spent the summer on a Kibbutz in Israel. I didn’t want to leave. I was drawn to the beauty of living a life where we shared everything in communistic ways, but I must have been even more enticed by the American Dream. After a summer of picking carrots and working in a salami factory, I moved back to the States to pursue my personal ambitions.

The ideal of communistic sharing continues to inspire me, and it seems to entice many others as well. People are excited by new online sites like rideshare.com, couchsurfing.com, and mealshare.org; and many are sharing in ways that they wouldn’t have imagined previously.

I don’t know if I would have been happier if I had stayed on the Kibbutz, but I almost certainly would understand more about sharing if I did. One of my brothers has been living on a Kibbutz for many years, and we are planning to visit him soon. I’m eager to find out what we will learn about sharing in the process.

Joel Tauber, “SHARE” (photo direction: Joel Tauber, shot by Kristi Chan) from the art installation and movie, “The Sharing Project”

Joel Tauber, “SHARE” (photo direction: Joel Tauber, shot by Kristi Chan) from the art installation and movie, “The Sharing Project”

Joel Tauber is an artist and filmmaker who teaches experimental film and orchestrates the video art program at Wake Forest University. His current undertaking – “The Sharing Project” – is both a sculptural video installation and a feature film.

http://thesharingproject.net

 

PAPER WINGS and BRONZE DECOR

NAOTAKA HIRO 2012-2015 Los Angeles

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“The bronze piece is titled, Red Olive. It is a life cast of my right arm from chin to fingers, holding a testicle.  The testicle is painted red.” (Red Olive, 2015, bronze and acrylic paint, 24″ x 14″ x 12″)

“I had a bald spot back of my head, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, almost for a year.  It seems to have resulted from severe stress. Even though the spot was rather big, I didn’t notice it until a friend told me. In Japanese folklore there is a monster called futakuchi-onna: it is a woman with two mouths: one located on her face and the other on the back of the head, underneath her hair. Having her in mind I split open a face of my head-cast mask and cut a hole in the back. Then I stuck my head into the mask and breath through the hole.  I was interested in the shape, blackness of the pit, and, like a black hole, its unknowability and uncanny nature.” Naotaka Hiro.

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pencil, watercolor, 17" x 14" Courtesy of the artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pencil, watercolor, 17″ x 14″ Courtesy of artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pen, watercolor, 17" x 14" Courtesy of the artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2015 Pen, watercolor, 17″ x 14″ Courtesy of the artist and Misako & Rosen, Tokyo

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015 Graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015  graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

 

“THERE MUST BE SOME WINGS ON WHICH TO FLY”* by Rosanna Albertini

Because humans do not have wings, and their minds are stuck in their bodies, they never cease questioning their own substance, the density of their thoughts like a fog over a buzzing busy hive of cells and organs, veins and pumps that we detect in biology books. Naotaka decided to dive into his own blindness, to visit images of the unknown carapace, of gestures, not to mention the invisible motion/emotion ejected through hands drawing without knowing, not really knowing what’s appearing in images a l’impromptu, and yet the artist doesn’t miss the spot he has found in some curves of his brain, creatures swimming or multiplying in chemical ponds. They are in him, not clear at all if they are him.

 

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen watercolor on paper

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

Naotaka Hiro started to send out of his body from fifteen to twenty drawings a day five years ago, when his son was born. As if proliferation couldn’t stop? And every new born on paper is “his double” —he says. A supernatural disease? A human trying to capture the most fleeting, indefinite motions of his being. Sheets of paper are not mirrors. Light, light shadows, grab them before they melt, before they harden in ideas, visions, words. Movement is their natural birth, coming from any part of the body, wrapping forms recalling exterior limbs having the same delicacy of the interior skins but forms are not right, they look free from bones like new branches sprouting from a tree not yet aware they will have bark and leaves one day. Images of these drawings forget they had been conceived in an organism, a place of functional cooperation.  They show us the mysterious story of inner impulses asking to emerge and then feeling surprised there is inhuman space out there; “there must be some wings on which to fly.” Rebellious and gregarious at the same time.

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 6" x 8.5"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 6″ x 8.5″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

Those papers the artist covers with colors and water and delicacy extreme could be wings of desire floating in his mind. Sculpted and drawn hands look like an alien presence, four fingers, not five.

The hand is a bronze thief that holds a red fruit picked up from sexual organs. Something that might. Rigid, its power is lost.

On paper, creatures of water find a presence which is not supposed to last, the birth of an instant stabbing the artist with the force of an instinct, defenseless, already becoming something else.

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without man feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy,
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches,
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

WALLACE STEVENS, Of Mere Being, in Opus Posthumous, 1990

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

NAOTAKA HIRO, Untitled, 2012-2015, graphite, pen, watercolor on paper, 9″ x 12″

* Wallace Stevens, Adagia, in Opus Posthumous, New York, Vintage Books, 1990.

ALONE IN THE SKY

NICK AUSTIN in Los Angeles, 2015

Federico Garcia Lorca in New York, 1929-30

Nick Austin arrived in Los Angeles early December 2015 from Dunedin, New Zealand. Once  his drawings were hung at Laurel Doody Gallery, he spent his time walking through Los Angeles for hours and hours, from Griffith Park to Cloverdale Avenue. Nick, like me, doesn’t drive. He didn’t know that Griffith Park is the biggest park in North America: Rancho Los Feliz in 1882 with an ostrich farm for feathers on the ladies’ hats, then Aerodrome for pioneers of flight that became a zoo, and a detention camp for prisoners of war after WWII. Nick felt he was flying on his feet. Feeling hot, he threw his shirt in the air; his passport fall out of it and slumbered, hidden in the grass. But his naked torso was happy. He got lost. At the end of the day, exhausted, Nick appeared tall and skinny like a winter tree on the steps before my door, a bunch of organic carrots in his hands. An artist is not a conventional traveler. 

NICK AUSTIN, Where Sugar Lives, 2015, color pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Where Sugar Lives, 2015, color pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

I cannot complain / if all that I wanted eludes me. / In the sapless world of the stone and the void of the insect / I shall not envision a duel of sun with the creatures of festering flesh.

I go into genesis’ landscape / of rumblings, collisions, and waters / that drench all the newly-born, / and shun all the surfaces, / to understand rightly my target-convergence in joy / when passion is mingled with dust and I rise upon air.

(From: Heaven Alive, by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA)

NICK AUSTIN, The Town Wristwatch, 2014, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, The Town Wristwatch, 2014, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

To see how all passes, / the void and the vesture together, / give me your gauntlet of moonlight, / and that other glove, lost in the grass, / O my love!

A stir in the air can pluck out the snail / dead in the elephant’s lung, /  and puff up the frost stiffened worm / in the calyx of apples and light.

The indifferent faces float off / in the failing clamor of grass / and from the toad’s little breast, in the corners, / a chaos of heart-beat and mandolins.

(From: Nocturne of the Void, by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA)

NICK AUSTIN, Many Happy Returns, 2015, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Many Happy Returns, 2015, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

There fell a leaf / and two / and three. / And a fish swam into the moon. / The water slumber an hour / and the white sea, a hundred. / A lady  / lay dead in the branches. Still / the nun / in the grapefruit sang on. / The little girl / passed out of pine into cone. / And the pine /tried a feather-fine trill. / But the nightingale / wept in his circle of wounds, / as I / for the fall of a leaf / and two / and three.    …

The sky will stand firm to the wind / like a wall, / and the ruining branches / dance off. / One and by one / ringing the moon, / two and by two / ringing the sun, / three and by three / till the ivories’ slumber is sound.

(From: Waltz in the Branches by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA)

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Apples delicately bruised / by a supple blade’s silver, / clouds broken by fistblows of coral / that carry a fiery cocoon on their backs, / the arsenical fish, like a shark, / the shark, like a tear-drop, blinding a multitude, / the rose, drawing blood, / and the needle-point finding the blood vessel, / the enemy worlds and the worm-eaten passions, / will cave in on you.

(From: Cry to Rome by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA. This poem, as the others poems quoted above, are published in POET IN NEW YORK, by Federico Garcia Lorca, Translation by Ben Belitt, New York, Grove Press, 1955)

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Flag in the Water

F L A G   I N   T H E   W A T E R

SIMONE FORTI in the Rice River (Northern Minnesota)

July 27, 2015 

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SIMONE FORTI,  Flag in the Water, video 19’46” 2015.  Cinematography Jason Underhill

Courtesy of the artist and  The Box Gallery, Los Angeles
(All the images are stills from the video, kindly provided by Jason Underhill)

N A K E D  F E E T   O N   T H E   G R O U N D

by Rosanna Albertini

Written and printed words had to be dry because water melts the paper. But I would like to write on the   paper when it’s wet and see the words expand like corals or marine anemones for a while until softened, melted, they let go the strength of their meanings. And truths often thrown like stones would have the look of washed out shadows.

My goddess is Simone Forti: the old woman who builds figures of speech, silent, dragging the soaked body of an American flag back to one day of our life, an uneventful day in the brownish water of the Rice River: July 27, 2015. The sky seems to frown, covering the scene with a handful of clouds as the day goes on. In front of the artist, beyond the two banks covered with trees, is the illusory point where the small river hands over his entire body of water to the bigger, Mississippi brother.

Even cut in two parts, the flag is heavy. Simone is a frail woman already carrying eight decades and the strongest figure at the same time: she is a vessel of freedom. For one day, the flag is her personal companion. It floats under the surface like a lover who invites her to lie down on her his its chest and close her eyes, to feel their new and welcomed union. “Myths are the soul of our actions and love.” (Paul Valéry). A soaked flag is much closer to human heaviness, to the liquid chemistry of our brain and blood. As Simone embraces the fabric, holds it underwater maybe sharing with the flag the impression they can both be deaf and blind for a moment, a million of unwritten stories, around that summer day, have vanished in the thin air. The real bodies rocked by the waves as many plankton forms, have been absorbed into the fabric. They were bodies searching for freedom.

 

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Rivers are roads that walk and bring us where we want to go.” (Blaise Pascal) The stars on the flag drive Simone’s eyes to the sky, the stripes drip down like blood. Simone is withdrawn, perhaps moving away from the sharpness of the news, sometimes they sound like bullets. Her body in movement is a fullness of feelings channelled into a slow motion physical language, which does almost savor the quality of each gesture.  A horse appears on the bank, bringing Roland Barthes, the prince of subtleties. Both horse and chevalier stop and look at Simone. “That’s the real pleasure, the moment in which my body will follow its own ideas — for my body has ideas different from my owns.” And puff! he disappears.

Simone doesn’t see the intruders. Completely absorbed as she is into the secret effort of bringing back the symbol of freedom, the national dress of her country to human actions and love. Out of the water, she folds the fabric with care, always keeping the bundle pressed on her breast. Then, for no particular reasons, she picks up a burned stick from the floor and traces a few lines on the double, wet flag.

For memory and art now, in the caves, naked feet on the ground.

Simone Forti_Midway Minneapolis_July 27 2015_Still_190