THE PASEO, A FESTIVAL BRINGING THE ARTS OF INSTALLATION, PERFORMANCE, AND PROJECTION TO THE STREETS OF TAOS, IS COMING UP ON SEPTEMBER 25 & 26, FOR ITS SECOND YEAR OF CELEBRATING ‘UNHANGABLE ART.’ LIVETAOS AND KNCE ARE PARTNERING WITH THE PASEO TO BRING YOU GREAT INTERACTIVE COVERAGE BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE EVENT!
THIS SERIES PROFILES SOME OF THE MANY FABULOUS ARTISTS BRINGING THE PASEO TO LIFE FOR A SECOND YEAR.
Axle Contemporary returns to The Paseo for a second year, this time collaborating with internationally-renowned video pioneers Steina & Woody Vasulka and mathematician Rob Shaw.
We caught up with Axle Contemporary to ask them a few questions about their return to The Paseo with a new piece; but first, some background information on the artists involved in this collaboration (from The Paseo website):
Axle Contemporary was founded in 2010 by artists Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman, as a collaborative work of art, and an innovative vehicle for arts distribution. It has since grown beyond the confines of the mobile exhibition space, and also includes book publishing, and alternative methods of creation and dissemination of contemporary arts in the public sphere.
Rob Shaw, PhD, received a MacArthur Fellowship for his pioneering work in the field of Chaos Theory at The University of California at Santa Cruz in the 1980’s. He was associated with both the Eudaemons group and the Prediction Company.
Steina and Woody Vasulka have long been pioneers in the field of electronic and video art. In 1971, along with Andres Mannik, they founded The Kitchen in New York, a performance space devoted to electronic media. Their work has been featured in the most prestigious museums and arts venues throughout the globe including The Venice Biennale. They have also been recognized with numerous honors including the American Film Foundations Maya Deren Prize, the Siemens Media Art prize, and a Soros Foundation fellowship. They have also received honors from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation.
LT: What drew you to participate in The Paseo?
Axle Contemporary: We were invited to do something in 2014. Our project, POTATO, was well embraced by the community. We hung three hundred potato prints, served two hundred bowls of soup, and thrilled over a thousand spectators. This year, we are excited to do something new.
Tell us a little about Axle Contemporary, and about Järmark.
Axle Contemporary is an art gallery housed in a retrofitted 18 foot-long 1970 aluminum step van. We bring an intimate experience of art to people where they lead their daily lives, on city streets, in parking lots outside grocery stores, and at special events. In five years, we have shown the work of hundreds of New Mexico artists to an audience of thousands.
Järmark is an interactive video experience, involving a live camera, special software, and projection. The show was created by Steina and Woody Vasulka and Rob Shaw. It is inspired by the Spring Festival carnivals of Woody’s youth in Czechoslovakia. It was first shown in 2011 in our mobile gallery in Santa Fe.
What is the strangest/most interesting piece of feedback you’ve ever received about Järmark?
Whole families came to play together, and much joy and laughter were generated. It sometimes became very hard to move people along so that others could share the experience. People were often amazed to experience the magical sight of their faces and bodies being transformed and rotated as they remained still.
What do you think The Paseo’s focus on “unhangable art” contributes to the contemporary dialogue about art and art exhibitions?
The world of art has changed in recent decades as people grow more interested in engaging in experiences and less in collecting objects. This is changing the way art is produced, funded and exhibited as well as how it is defined. A very old dialogue exists as to what is art, what is entertainment, and what does art do anyway? The one thing we firmly believe: engaged experiential art builds community. We have seen this in the five years that Axle has been engaging people on the streets, and were overjoyed to see the enthusiasm and appreciation of the local Taos community for The Paseo last year.
What’s unique about creating and exhibiting work in northern New Mexico these days?
The audience for engaging contemporary art projects is growing across the country. The coastal urban centers no longer define the well-realized art experience. In Northern New Mexico, we have a longer tradition of active participation in contemporary art dialogue than most other rural communities.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We can’t wait to be there!
All photos courtesy of Axle Contemporary