apexart Fellowship


Modris Svilans is an artist based in Riga, Latvia. He is in NYC as an apexart New York City Fellow from September 9 - October 9, 2014.

Damali Abrams is a NYC-based artist traveled to Seoul, South Korea, as an apexart International Fellow from July 1 - 30, 2014.

Posts tagged with "Kelly Warman"

Jul 6


A bit of a Mess and Tiredness Takes Over

I think its very difficult to be sharp after the celebration of a birth of a country.
No matter which country it is and no matter who you are.
It is comforting to know I am a part of the 234th time.
Missing the last ferry to Governor Island took me to Times Square.
I think these two activities are in direct opposition to one another.
However I was not in the right frame of mind for the visual explosion that is Times Sq.
Dreamily ambling down Madison Avenue I came across a woman.
She was dressed in navy blue linen fabric blowing gracefully in the wind.
Her back to the street, propping herself against a derelict shop window.
Her black bin liner bags lined her feet and her hair was so knotted that she resembled Mrs Twit. from Roald Dahl’s The Twits.
I felt like she looked and the city was just too much for me.
After much indirect derive I made my way home for curry and bed.

Day three.

Jul 7


We Do All Types of Haircuts

Hells Kitchen, west side ny was once a bad bad place, so bad it was hot.
The police refused to go there, proclaiming it was like being caught in the fiery kitchen of hell.
Slap bang in the middle of the inferno is a highly experimental non-profit called The Kitchen.
It was here I met Matthew Lyon today, one of the Kitchen curators.
This has a nice ring to it, a kitchen curator, “tonight only… Crazy Lion and The Kitchen Curators…”
Today was a tight schedule, no ambling, places to see people to be.
Along my journey I bumped into Bryant Park where some old Al Pacino film was screening.
It seemed silly to watch a mediated new york whilst I sat in the center of it.
Making my way through a distinctly 70’s public library I parked myself (late, of course) inside a lecture on the history of the Lower East Side.
Dr. Brown spoke incredibly slowly, maybe this was due to the collective age range of the audience being over 70.
He presented a somewhat stilted slide show of churches, synagogues and temples dating back to the 1820’s.
It went a little like this:
1st the English protestants came, all aristo and with big empirical ideas, they built all the houses and churches.
2nd came the German reformed Jews, so all the English aristos moved uptown.
3rd came the Irish Catholics, so all the German reformed Jews moved uptown.
4th came the Eastern European orthodox Jews, all speaking Yiddish and without their Rabbis.
5th came the Catholic Hispanics.
6th came the Chinese.
In the end the orthodox and reformed Jews didn’t mix, the Irish ended up all fighting in the civil war (they were offered $100 directly when they came of the boat, no matter if they fought for the confederates or the union). The Hispanics were generally relocated to the Bronx and Harlem and the Chinese stayed.
Then a bunch of old new yorker jews stood up and corrected Dr. Brown on his facts because they were there and they remembered 1867.
I gave all my change to a homeless man on 5th Ave. because I still don’t understand the monetary system here.
I told him to take it all because I just can’t work it out.
They do all types of haircuts here in New York and everyone has small dogs.
Day 4.

Different Possibilities For Blue

Finding myself in downtown Manhattan I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to walk along the hudson harbor picking up my ferry in the meatpacking district.
The West Side Highway and West Street are a cross fusion of productivity and leisure zones.
Sauntering between thick clouds of sewage smell, industrial cleaning facilities, purpose built rock gardens, thickets of ‘wild areas’ and large recreational parkland, I made my way up the city to the pickup point.
Big city bums have found a relatively (in summer) comfortable hang-out in the rock gardens.
The space comes fully equipped with sun trap, shelter, soft cushy grass beds, public bathroom facilities and fresh water on tap for all.
If they feel like a spot of tennis there is always the Chelsea Pier one block down.
Large gangs of suburban kids drift from coaches to the indoor baseball piers along the hudson.
I get lost and confused trying to work out how far along I have walked.
42nd, 35th, 44th street ? Do I need to jump on the L, N, R or C ?
I still haven’t acclimatized myself to numbers and letters.
I know it should be logical, but for me it makes no sense.
I’m a colours and symbols kinda girl.
Give me the London Underground map any day.
After what seemed like a small eternity and crossing the globe on foot (heels as well) I arrived at Pier 81 and it started to rain.
Before jumping on the circle line boat tour (a 3 hour boat tour around the whole island of Manhattan) they take a very strange picture of me standing behind a novelty nautical fake life ring.
This is compulsory. It also seems compulsory to smile as the photographer keeps demanding.
One of the most compelling aspects of this procedure is that it serves a dual purpose.
1. For security purposes, if any of us try and blow up the sightseeing boat they have a file on us.
2. So they can sell you the picture after you come off the boat for $25, a unique way to remember your trip, on land, pre-sightseeing and standing behind a fake life ring.
Anything that has the verb ‘life’ should never simultaneously have the adjective ‘fake’ in the same breath.
The boat proceeded with a tired weathered and slightly crooner esque tour guide.
He paced the boat with his microphone in hand reeling off inconsequential facts about the great new york skyline.
Apparently that is where Madonna and Steven Spielberg live and don’t forget the circle line company have made a special memorial book for the world trade center tragedy, remember the world trade center tragedy.
Just in case you forgot.
I have never been on a such a long stretch of water and heard the term tragedy used so often.
But then there was the Lady Libertas to cheer us all up.
As we drifted slowly up the east river past Queens, Harlem and the Bronx our Captain Crooner had very little to say apart from “this was once a rough neighborhood but now its getting better” and “look right you’ll see the Yankee Stadium”.
So we all took a break from our cameras and ate hot dogs while the boat floated under countless bridges in the Bronx.
Is it just me or are tourist’s cameras are getting bigger and better by the minute.
Gone are the days of rubbish disposable snappy little numbers, everyone and their dog is a pro nowadays.
On Saturday I stood on a rooftop in Brooklyn getting a last glimpse of the fireworks.
After forgetting my camera batteries I ask someone if they could take a picture for me.
They responded by saying “just type New York Skyline into google”.
Day five - lets go with the colour blue, we all know what that means.

Queens Day

A beautiful sleepy sunny morning, a calm gracious side of New York awoke me today.
Jumping directly on the 7 at Grand Central and making my way to Willets Point deep inside Queens was an incredibly smooth procedure.
I headed towards Flushing Meadows and Corona Park.
A big stretch of parkland that separates Flushing Bay and Union Turnpike.
It was originally developed for the 1939 New York City World’s Fair, which it hosted again in 1964.
Converting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘valley of ashes’ (from the Great Gatsby) into Gilmore D. Clarke’s ‘mans achievements on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe’ (the tag line for the ‘64 fair by the Unisphere architect).
The park is also home to the Queens Museum of Modern Art.
A strange redundant hybrid art space.
One part stuck in nostalgic homage the other reaching for contemporary relevance.
Subsequently achieving neither.
For a period it was the temporary hang out for the homeless United Nations.
Refurbished and dressed up a little it became the New York City Pavillion in ‘64.
The only original building from the ‘39 fair to stand in the park now.
An amalgamation of potentialities and burnt dreams.
Flushing/Corona is a beautiful relaxing park.
Full of big old trees and birds.
Populated with young hispanic families bombing around underneath the unisphere on bmxs and teenagers on skateboards.
'World's Fair' is a typically Victorian concept, initiated with a view to showcase industrial advancements on a national scale.
As time went by they metamorphosized to showcase the thematic topic reflected in the climate of the times.
Industrialisation, cultural exchange, technological progression and from the mid nineties to now branding.
Large scale barren monumental elephants.
Architecture constructed with an eye to the spectacular and not the functional.
Monuments and buildings that are to be witnessed but not used.
To list a few ex-fair sites so you understand how Flushing/Corona felt:
Crystal Palace in London, Grand Palais in Paris, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Biosphere in Montreal and the Atomium in Brussels, to name but a few.
There is a stark contrast of present day useability and utopian monumental desires for an iconic spectacle of national glory in these sites.
The second part of my day was spent listening to a little gig in Brooklyn by a band called Project.
They were very good.
Day six - spectacles of light and dark.

Too Cool for School Too Late for Fate

Today had a listless and languid start.
Late out of bed, late to breakfast, late into the shower, late out of the door, late to Roosevelt Island.
Sometimes I have these days, I’m just generally late for everything.
I remember my Nan once saying “one day you’ll miss your own funeral” and if I recall correctly at the time I thought “surely that can’t be a bad thing”.
She also used to say “if a bomb dropped on your bedroom you still wouldn’t wake up in the morning”.
As a small person I would have vivid imagery of this event occurring, it was simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.
My school books would be disheveled and torn, teddy bears ripped into a million pieces, my bed became the site a big black hole, but somehow I was always safely and soundly asleep in the middle of all this chaos.
Keeping people waiting is never good and it won’t help you win friends, but being a late person is (well should be) deemed a medical condition.
Some people just can’t help it.
The time keepers of this world would be horrified at this notion.
In their universe the time and their bodies are one, ‘keeping time’ presents itself with very little problem.
But for us people that live outside of the world of time and instead in the realm of the imaginary and dreamy, prescribing to these rules and regulations is no easy task.
As you can imagine I never (and I mean never) got to school on time.
There are just too many other interesting things in this world than the place you have to be at 9 am.
I’m sorry my story features very little on Roosevelt Island.
Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, the whole excursion presented only small joys.
The cable car that put me back on Manhattan however was great.
Much like a fair ground ride but with the added mundanity of a commuter train.
After a rather uneventful day on Roosevelt Island - which as I read a thousand times in the historical society literature was formerly known as Hog Island, formerly known as Blackwell Island, formerly known as Welfare Island - I jumped over to Chelsea for an opening at x initiative project space.
I sat on the rooftop with a beer and they played a song I have searching for for a long time: Erotic City by Prince.
My day was complete.
Day seven - the island formerly known as…

The Power of Art and those Revolutionary Rooftops

Today was an interesting one.
Part one was The Power of Art at The Drawing Center.
A series of talks and panel lead discussion.
As is usual with these types of sunny afternoon,
sitting in a dark room listening to people talk things,
only 20% is only ever really very inspiring.
My 20% came in the form of John Welchman a British Professor in Modern Art History at the University of California, San Diego.
His talk ‘Power Piracy and the Bloody Flux’ discussed Paul McCarthy’s recent piece ‘La La Land Parody Paradise’
which was exhibited at The Whitechapel Gallery, in London in January.
He weaved together the historical contextual background of a pirate’s life, cultures and behavioral patterns with an investigation into McCarthy’s comparable parody of the numbing and dumbing process by which the era of sea piracy has undergone in the media in recent years.
A very succint but equally compelling synopsis of an artist who is caught between a cathartic chanelling of a depressed, repressed, amoral, consumer led and hypocratical America and re-enacting time and time again the theatre of cruelty through acts of constructed hollywood synthetic debasement.

Part two took me to Carrol Street south Brooklyn Rooftop Films.

Rooftop have been screening underground films in a variety of locations around New York for the past 5 years.

There I met Mark Elijah Rosenberg the creative director of Rooftop.
We, along with a few 100 more people watched a live performance by the band ‘Live Bells’.
A Tortoise esque, progressively dreamy instrumental band from Ohio.
And the film 45635.
The film was an overview of the small suburban town of Sidney, Ohio follwing the lives of 4 central figures drifting between shots of the banal and mundane, everyday life in context of boredom, financial struggle, love, growing pains and bouts of roaring laughter and exhibitionism.
After meeting the sibling duo directors Bill and Turner (and their Father Bill), all orignally from Sidney and hearing that McCarthy’s pirate project was actally developed, realised and instigated in collaboration with his son Damon McCarthy.
I took a taxi home listening to Sly and The Family Stone’s ‘Family Affair’ on my pod.
Day eight, bloods thicker than mud.

Part Two: The Yankee Beacon

In contrast to the Dia foundation is the town of Beacon.
60 minutes north or so of New York City, Beacon is beautifully simple.
Surrounded by lush green exterior, a one high street, economically depressed, no mans land.
Not much happens in Beacon, a group of women sit in the Yankee Clipper diner discussing various ailments, diseases and viruses.
Relating their trips to the hospital, comparing doctors and the health of their friends.
The man working behind the counter in the petrol station doesn’t speak any English but simultaneously manages to grasp my request for the bathroom, restroom, toilet, WC, whilst serving someone paying for gas, whilst talking in Hindi to a customer on the phone.
His capacity for multi-tasking was admirable.
I ask a young man in a pizza parlor where I can get a beer.
His reaction was utter bemusement.
The experimental, bourgeois, bohemian, trendy, hipster days of Brooklyn are long behind me.
I wonder if Beacon; town is effected in anyway by Beacon; art ?
The two so utterly dislocated.
The monumental aspirations of the work in Dia holds so little time for inconsequential moments of banality of the hamlet.
Day nine - potentially humdrum and threadbare.

Part One: The Prepensity of Light, Form and Sound

Dia: Beacon hosts/boasts a collection that includes large scale works by:
Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Gerhard Richter, Louise Bourgouis and many more.
These are the big guns and the location does their work justice.
The experience is impressive, grasping your senses from all angles.
I, like many of my generation of artists cultivated our understanding of making, process, methodology and ideas through works like these.
This was a very contemporary trip down memory lane.
Work that was produced predominately in the 60’s and 70’s presented in a fresh, inspiring and considered context.
Sound as much as light as much as heavy material - steel, concrete, glass, wood - is moulded and shaped with the experiential in mind.
How we participate in active receivership remains essential in each artist’s goal.
How we are exposed to, for example steel, as a somewhat caressing and delicate substance is the challenge.
Day nine - echos in the chamber of education

The Wrong Way

I hold a variety of personal, airing on the side of angry and highly critical opinions about my experience today.
The ‘Report from Gaza and Roundtable Discussion’ hosted by the Brecht Forum left me seething with questions that had to be internalised because of the lack of supposed open discussion.
Five speakers, each have just returned from the Gaza region in Palestine, each representative of their own committee, group, alliance or delegation - essentially pro Palestine and anti blockade.
All doing good and all congratulating each other on their capacity and capability to do good.
The audience was made up - as one speaker adoringly put it of “old faces”.
But from what I could see and hear this translated as reformed middle aged left wing activist Jews.
Reformed in the sense of; recently made a 360 in their opinion of those damn, dirty, hating, fundamentalist Arabs, always committing acts of unspeakable terror on poor Israel.
And have, thankfully, realised that Israel’s tired old tag line of “we need to defend our country” is perhaps not what it claims to be.
But Kelly, I hear you cry, what could possibly be wrong with a coalition and discussion group made up of active left wing middle class New Yorker Jews that are anti Zionist ?
And I answer: from one perspective nothing.
If we accept that their self congratulatory enlightenment is far too late and also comes with the added condition that their collective epiphany seem to involve persuading the general public that those damn Arabs are actually really lovely people and therefore don’t deserve what is happening to them.
In fact quote “they are the warmest, most welcoming and kind nation of people I have ever met”.
So our support comes with the condition that you are good and essentially like us.
Part of the report from Gaza was basically an expose on how normal Palestinians actually are, with the additional reaction of surprise from the audience.
Showing us that they posses the dimension to retain real dreams, desires, ambitions, pain, responsibilities, growing pains, awkwardness - you know like we do.
Thankfully I felt proud to come from a country where discussion and action regarding Palestine is a little more complex and intelligent.
Where persuading the most progressively thinking people of the characteristic normalcy of a nation of people has developed somewhat.
I must admit in my cynicism this post is only one aspect of what bothered me, I should reserve an entire blog for my criticisms of the validity of marching, protesting, petition signing and boycotting in 2009.
Day ten - facile Brechtian space.

Heartbreak Hotel

Liberty and Ellis Island are inherently connected.
In concept, in morality, in politics and in ethics.
One area they differ dramatically is function.
Liberty, as you well know, was a gift ‘from the people of France’.
A commemoration of the centennial signing of the Declaration of Independence.
It was placed directly next to Ellis Island to greet fresh new immigrants coming to America’s newly declared shores.
Liberty’s purpose, in this sense, was one of hospitality, in monumental form.
Ellis Island on the other hand was the machinery behind this majestic reception.
It was the in-take, the processing, testing, census making and naturalisation component of successful human traffic flow.
12 million people were inspected and introduced to their new nationality here between the years of 1892 and 1954.
Back in the good old days only 2% of this total traffic was deported or denied access in the rush to build a nation.
For those 2% Ellis Island earnt the knickname ‘Heartbreak Island’ and ‘Island of Tears’.
Eventually those heady days of promise and welcome had to end.
And end it did in 1924 with the introduction of the Immigration Act, which in particular banned all immigrants from Asia and reduced the amount of people to 2% of the number of people from that country that were already living in the USA allowed in.
Ellis as a result fell to the demise of internment and deportation camp status.
Meaning that the statue of liberty should have been shrouded in black from that point onwards, but obviously this was never considered.
Today it is as hard to get onto Liberty and Ellis Island as it was after 1924.
The rigorous screening process takes place inside a make-shift camp next to the pier where you board the tour boat to take you there.
There is little sense of what awaits you whilst you queue, except for the signs which read “airport style security checking inside”.

In my shock at entering the 4th ring of hell I thought it would be interesting to take a photo.
This is the conversation that ensued:
NYPD or generic security or military “Maam you must delete your photo”
KW “why ?”
NYPD (voice raised and agitated) “Maam step to one side and delete your photo now”
KW “I didn’t realise it was illegal”
NYPD (pointing her finger to a sign behind her head prohibiting the use of photocameras etc)
KW “okay, sorry I didn’t see the sign but still I would like to know why before I delete my image”
NYPD (getting really visibly angry now) “what do you mean why, you can’t ask me why”
KW “surely asking why isn’t illegal yet, is it ?”
NYPD (on her walkie talkie) “calling units ….. we have a situation here”
Other police/security/military types show up and surround me.
KW “I am completely willing to abide the law and delete my picture, it was a genuine mistake, I didn’t see the signs, but I still would like to know why. Before I comply with a law I like to why I am doing it”
new NYPD officer “we just don’t want anyone knowing our operations Maam, now delete your photo”
KW “okay I guess that makes sense for you, here its deleted”
I don’t want to be accused of causing problems, but I did find myself in a situation where it is simple and easy to panic and do what you are told without thinking.
All I wanted was someone to make sense and give me a valid reason for the intensive screening and invasion of privacy that I was exposed to as a tourist…
In 1990 they turned Ellis Island into a Museum of Immigration.
The interactive aspect of the museum is a good experience.
The census bureau have made quite a comprehensive map of the variety of nationalites currently living in America; their immgrant history and percentages of varying nationalities in each state.
New York still beats them all in the mix up race though.
Day eleven - your names not on the list, your not coming in.

The Locked Room (after Auster)

The cloisters is the antidote to the city.
Seclusionary wonder, tucked away beneath the Bronx.
Beautiful gardens hosting a range of herbs and flowers.
A sanctuary for all that is European and medieval.
Housed in a building that is from 1930’s America.
A homage to Rockefeller and his philanthropic delights.
Lets cluster together in the secret garden.
Day twelve - Mary Mary quite contrary….

The BB Blues

Crossing this monumental feast on foot
mortality and small insignificant humanity are brought to bear.
Concrete owns this domain,
tall obelisks rise from the dirt,
scraping clouds along their way.
An overwhelming sense of pace,
quickened tempo a deliberate menace.
This crossing is older than mine,
an indentation of water into land.
The island of a thousand bricks
has grown through language, power and lust.
As Kerouac once said…

I would I were a wave
and had vanished now
than bawl and blot
with pencils in screaming
rooms here on earth
so fool stupid blind

Not My Kind of Pilgrimage

D.C. is lost on me.
So instead I refer you to a man who can put it more succinctly, Gil Scott…

Symbols of democracy, pinned up against the coast
Outhouse of bureaucracy, surrounded by a moat
Citizens of poverty are barely out of sight
Overlords escape in the evening with people of the night
Morning brings the tourists, peering eyes and rubber necks
To catch a glimpse of the cowboy making the world a nervous wreck
It’s a mass of irony for all the world to see
It’s the nation’s capital, it’s Washington D.C.

It’s the nation’s capital
It’s the nation’s capital
It’s the nation’s capital, it’s Washington D.C.

May not have the glitter or the glamour of L.A.
May not have the history or the intrigue of Pompeii
But when it comes to making music, and sure enough making news
People who just don’t make sense and people making do
Seems a ball of contradictions, pulling different ways
Between the folks who come and go, and one’s who’ve got to stay
It’s a mass of irony for all the world to see
It’s the nation’s capital, it’s Washington D.C.

It’s the nation’s capital
It’s the nation’s capital
It’s the nation’s capital, it’s Washington D.C.

Seems to me, it’s still in light time people knifed up on 14th street
Makes me feel it’s always the right time for them people showing up and coming clean
Did make the one seem kind of numb

It’s the nation’s capital
It’s the nation’s capital
It’s the nation’s capital, it’s Washington D.C.
It’s the nation’s capital
Got you feeling capital
Punishment is capital in Washington D.C.

Day fourteen, the memorial for the memorial.

It’s a Diddy-Wah to the Sugar Hill

These images could quite easily slip through your vision.

They could very easily be categorised as yet more buildings in New York.
Although the sites these images describe are laden with vital history.
Therefore I think it is important to note precisely what these images depict:

A makeshift church site on a tree in Harlem.

West 135 Street, in 1921 the first block of apartments to be owned purely by African Americans in New York.

The original Harlem YMCA, an important community center and support network for the civil rights movement built in 1933.

The brownstone that W.E.B Du Bois first started writing and publishing the journal for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

The shop front that Marcus Garvey campaigned and ran the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1916.

Strivers Row.

The Abyssinian Baptist Church, now the founders of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, who invest new housing developments, new public schools and shopping centers in Harlem. Also the activist church was one of the first organisations to mobilise support for HIV and AIDS victims in the community.

Brownstones opposite the church.

The back of Strivers Row.
Day thirteen - hallowed ground.

The Ten Point Program

We should not be seeking a voice of a nation, a voice of a country.
But instead the voice of the individual, the voice of truth.
This may not be comforting, neither may it provide gratification or necessarily equanimity.
But instead the voice of truth and individuality may provide autonomy.
Definition and bare broken jagged edges in a society of redundancy and homogenization,
numbness and mutedness.
We need to define ourselves.
The Mercantile Library of Fiction in 1820 and Emory Douglas at The New Museum in 2009.
A Black Panther and the Merchants of stories…
My journey through thought and action.
Emory spoke of land, bread, housing and peace.
Emory spoke of education, justice and equality.
Emory spoke of 1968, 2008, Oakland, California, Harlem, New York.
The Merchants spoke of Thackeray, Douglass and Twain.
The Merchants adored story and its potential for transformation.
The Merchants created a temple for fiction.
Both entangled, locked together weaving narrative and ripping yarns,
retold and resold, packaged and placed, dissolved and divulged.
My journey on the back of Black Panther wandering through an oasis of prose.
Day fifteen, seize the time, the time is now!