Highlights from (e)merge: the artists platform

Unlike the gallery platform, two-dimensional works were a bit less common in the artist platform at (e)merge. It’s not surprising -- in their call to artists the organizers expressed an interest in site-specific work that engaged with the idiosyncrasies of a hotel setting. But it may also point to the organizers’ desire to favor experimentation over commerce in this portion of the fair. There were simultaneous performances throughout (e)merge, and they were hard to miss, but we also got a look at a couple of two-dimensional works as well. New American Paintings' contributors, Matthew Smith and Alex Ebstein, discuss the artist platform at (e)merge, which closed yesterday. More after the jump!

DC Cheer!, an artist project led by Kristina Bilonick, greeted artists with encouragement as they arrived. Photo by E. Brady Robinson

Installation view of works by Tammi Campbell

Alex Ebstein: Tammi Campbell's modest-scaled paintings on paper suggest the precision and process of taped geometrical shapes and patterning through seemingly unfinished works. Compositions are truncated with application of thin, semi-transparent acrylic, crafted to resemble masking and painters' tape; the placement suggests a continuation of the grey-scale shapes below, while completing the pieces with a confrontation of maker's technique.

Matthew Smith: I like that the works are brainy meditations on the painting processes and its tools (hence her studio-like setup). Allegorically the works reference the materiality of the studio process, but physically they’re all about paint -- what looks like tape is in fact acrylic media.

Installation view of works by Tammi Campbell 

AE: Unlike her watery layered pieces with floral and organic motifs, the now-DC based painter Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann here displays an aggressively palleted scroll painting of massive proportions. Titled “Weft,” which refers to weaving, Mann cuts through erratic pools of red with undulating, woven clots of grey strokes which are outlined and with thinner black line work. The piece feels fast and dramatic, hectic and controlled.

MS: It’s that contrast between fluidity and control that forms the crux of Mann’s large scale piece for me. And while the splatters reference nature by exploring the physical properties of the paint, the gray strokes reference nature in their figurative aspirations.

Visitors get ready for the talk "Emerging Art / Emerging Practices." Weft, by Kathering Tzu-Lan Mann hangs in the background.

Detail of Weft, by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann
 AE: Allison Clark and Sophia Guerci, both students at the Corcoran, created a collaborative installation in the artist parking garage that easily is one of the most visually compelling pieces on view in this section. “Shared Albums, Collective Memory” is an impressive grid of multiple looped videos and framed photographs of nostalgic domestic portraiture. Babies, dated fashions, vacations and birthdays blend into an anonymous, symbolic album representing our shared experience, and making a monument out of otherwise fleeting and ephemeral media.

Installation view of Shared Albums / Collective Memory by Allison Clark and Sophia Guerci 

MS: This lower level garage featured more scrappy works at (e)merge, including work by MICA and Corcoran students. The Free Art Booth by Peacock looked like a popular stop, as did the mechanical chicken and t-bone stake that you could ride for 50 cents.

Free Art Booth by Peacock

Installation of Dinner Bell: Whole Chicken and T-bone

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Alex Ebstein is a Baltimore based writer and c0-director of Nudashank.

Matthew Smith is an artist and writer in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to DCist.