Podcast: Alexandra Goldman in conversation with Franklin Evans at Miles McEnery Gallery

Above: Franklin Evans and Alexandra Goldman in his Studio, 2021, New York, NY.

This article was originally published in Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.

The Whitehot Magazine Art World Podcast, season 2 E20:

LINK TO PODCAST: Alexandra Goldman in conversation with Franklin Evans on the occasion of his show at New York’s Miles McEnery Gallery.

Alexandra Goldman sits down with artist Franklin Evans to discuss his two current exhibitions at Miles McEnery Gallery, fugitivemisreadings at 520 West 21st Street, and YOU AGAIN curated by Franklin Evans at 511 West 22nd Street, as well as his current museum show Franklin Evans: franklinsfootpaths at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa.

FRANKLIN EVANS (b. in 1967 in Reno, NV) received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University in 1989 and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1993. He has had numerous solo exhibitions, including “Franklinsfootpaths” at the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA; “fugitivemisreadings ” at Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; “selfportraitas” at FL Gallery, Milan, Italy; and “timepaths” at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV. His work is included in many public and private collections including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV; the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; the Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH, and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT. He is a recipient of the 2017-18 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, NY; The Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL in 2017; and was a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH in 2016. Evans lives and works in New York, NY.

New York, NY: Miles McEnery Gallery, Franklin Evans: fugitivemisreadings, 24 June – 31 July 2021. Image: Christopher Burke Studio. Courtesy of the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY

Franklin Evans, misreadinglandscapeintoart, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 53 1/2 x 49 1/4 inches, 135.9 x 125.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY.

Franklin Evans Studio, 2021, New York, NY. Image: Christopher Burke Studio. Courtesy of the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY.

Franklin Evans, titianatilt (detail), 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 79 1/2 x 68 3/4 inches, 201.9 x 174.6 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY.

Installation view: Franklin Evans: franklinsfootpaths at the Figge Art Museum, 19 June – 26 September 2021, Davenport, IA. Image courtesy of the Figge Art Museum.

Works by Ann Pibal, Elliott Green, Josephine Halvorson, and Tom McGrath in YOU AGAIN curated by Franklin Evans at Miles McEnery Gallery. New York, NY: Miles McEnery Gallery, ‘YOU AGAIN’ curated by Franklin Evans, 24 June – 31 July 2021. Image: Christopher Burke Studio. Courtesy of the artists and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY.

Tabaimo Transforms Ancient Artifacts into Surreal Animated Worlds at James Cohan

Above: Installation view, “Tabaimo: Clue to Utsushi,” James Cohan, New York, 2018. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

James Cohan Gallery on the Lower East Side is known for transforming its space for interesting installations that create an environment. You may remember Omer Fast: August, a recent controversial exhibit where the street-facing portion of the gallery was transformed to simulate a rundown Chinatown storefront, revealing video art in the back. James Cohan’s current museum-quality installation, Clue to Utsushi, comprises surreal animations by Japanese artist Tabaimo. Each animation is projected onto a wall (or custom structure) in its own shape and size relating to an ancient artifact from the Seattle Art Museum. The gallery space is transformed into an unfamiliar, austere world that invites viewers to lurk around its dark corners and discover that there is more to unfold in each animation than first meets the eye.

2018_01_15_JamesCohan_004v1E.jpgInstallation view, “Tabaimo: Clue to Utsushi,” James Cohan, New York, 2018. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

Each of Tabaimo’s video projections allures with symbols of beauty, like a woman’s silhouette, a butterfly, a bird, or a set of armoires, yet leaves hints to the viewer that cohabiting with this beauty might be something sinister, and that watching and following the beautiful thing can lead you to a darker unknown place. Tabaimo creates an “Alice in Wonderland”-like universe where we are unfamiliar with where our curiosities will take us as we are drawn into the bizarre visual settings she imagined.

Utsushi1.pngStill from “Shinju Trail” by Tabaimo at James Cohan, New York, 2018. Image © Tabaimo. Photo: Artifactoid.

Clue to Utsushi is directly connected with Tabaimo’s 2016 exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Utsusushi Utsushi. At SAM, Tabaimo discovered that ancient artifacts around the Seattle Art Museum were calling to her with different energies, leading her to create works of video art that brought the antiques to life and opened them up to reveal new narratives. Four of the resulting videos are now on display in Clue to Utsushi, plus Shinju Trail, pictured above, which was created specifically for this show.

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 12.03.23 PM.pngRound-corner wood-hinged Cabinets (GUI), 16th Century, Chinese, that inspired the work “Two” by Tabaimo. Image © Seattle Art Museum.

Clip from “Two” by Tabaimo at James Cohan Gallery. Video © Tabaimo. Footage: Artifactoid.

Carrying the ancient to the present, Tabaimo, an artist known for critiquing Japanese culture, speaks to the concept of Utsushi, or, emulating artwork by masters of the past. Instead of physically copying the art of the masters, Utsushi refers to keeping the same “energy” of the master’s artwork while simultaneously bringing it into a new contemporary form. Though we don’t necessarily have this exact word in English, I believe that a lot of the best contemporary artwork from around the world demonstrates Utsushi by being original while maintaining a strong dialogue with the past and ultimately connecting it with the present and future.

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 5.19.27 PM.pngImage of an artifact that inspired the below animation, “Crow” by Tabaimo. © Seattle Art Museum.

Clip from “Crow” by Tabaimo at James Cohan Gallery. Video © Tabaimo. Footage: Artifactoid.

James Cohan Gallery is located at 191 Grand Street in Manhattan. Today is the final day to view this exhibition.