Mexican Artist Erika Harrsch Flying her currency kites in Long Island City NY in 2012.
Part of a series of performances with flying currency as "Inverted Sky" at World financial center in NYC part of River to River festival in 2012, Skyfull at OMW performance designed by Erika Harrsch and Paola Prestini with Claire Chase and Eric Lamb.
On Saturday, Ms. Harrsch was at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn., with her project, "United States of North America Passport." Her installation envisions a borderless North American continent — a fictitious entity called the United States of North America — and encourages museum visitors to apply for a passport that will make them citizens.
Once an application has been completed, Ms. Harrsch, playing the role of bureaucrat, invites applicants to spin a wheel to determine their fate.
Ms. Harrsch has traveled the country with the exhibit, and shown it in China, Mexico
and Poland. In the United States, activists and undocumented immigrants sometimes approach her. "They say, 'If this is a serious issue, why are you losing your time doing an art project? Do something for real,'" she said. "It's not for me to speak with a loud voice to anybody. It's for me more to speak to communities that bring this to the attention of leaders. It's very difficult to approach leaders, and easier to approach the world."
Erika Harrsch's interactive passport office, a mixed media installation and performance, will be open at The Aldrich in the days leading up to Election Day. Come apply for a passport for the artist's fictitious United States of North America—fill out the form, spin the wheel, and discover your fate. Are you a citizen or an illegal alien? Will you leave with a passport or was luck not on your side? This playful performance poses serious questions about immigration and identity and the artist will be on duty in her passport office during Museum hours to engage in the dialogue.
The playful nature of Harrsch's passport process underscores the emotionally charged, often anguishing experience of navigating bureaucratic procedures. Her installation was influenced by a four-year project in which she filmed the sanctuaries of the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch's is a multi-national, multi-generational migration between Canada and Mexico, mimicking the cyclical flow of people along the same path. While seemingly driven by economic imperatives, the human migration is not so different from that of the butterfly. Each defies the geopolitical to obey the biological imperatives of procreation and sustenance.
LIC, Queens- Contemporary public art organization, No Longer Empty, launches their 14th site-specific exhibition "How Much Do I Owe You?" on December 12, 2012 at 7pm. The iconic Bank of Manhattan Building will open its doors, vaults and Clock Tower for a personal and conversational exploration into the new iterations of currency, value and exchange at this time of financial anxiety, growing debt and job insecurity.
From the virtualization of money to the rise of non-monetary barter networks, recent years have seen a re-thinking of forms and systems of exchange, and thus notions of value, commodity, and debt that surround them. Inspired by the Bank and the neighborhood, 26 artists from 15 countries confront these issues and how they are negotiated in the workforce, housing market, and in the every day. Art works are presented in a variety of media, from sound installations, projections, and film to participatory projects, immersive installations and large scale sculptures.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS Artefacting, Ana Prvacki, Alberto Borea, Caroline Woolard, Chris Jordan, Colleen Ford, Erika Harrsch, Ghost of a Dream, Guerra de la Paz, Jennifer Dalton, Hayoon-Jay Lee, Keiko Miyamori, Leonidas Martin, Nicky Enright, F.R.E.E. (Fundred Reserve Even Exchange) LIC Branch Bank of America-Draw Deposit Display Station, Orit Ben-Shitrit, Pablo Helguera, Paulette Phillips, Sal Randoph, Sean Slemon, Shaun Leonardo, Susan Hamburger, Theodoros Stamatogiannis, Susanne Bosch, Sol Aramendi, Tom Sanford.
The world premiere of the live kite/music installation by renowned Mexican visual artist Erika Harrsch in collaboration with acclaimed composer Julian Wachner and flutist Margaret Lancaster. Specimen banknotes from countries around the world will be turned into butterfly-shaped kites that mimic the delicate beauty of these insects in migratory flight, representing the transformative power of global mobility and the volatility of currency markets. Professional kite flyers will perform with the kites in regulated movements that respond to the musical gestures.
By bringing this interactive art project into the public space, Inverted Sky will document how people relate to their own concept of money when it is placed in a poetic or ludicrous context. A playful appreciation derived from the lightness of a kite gives space to reflect on the somber heaviness of the worldwide financial events. This will provide a commentary on society's handling of controlling the flow and exchange of currency and investigate how people relate to the concept of money when it is placed in a poetic and imaginative context.
Scored for a single flute and live digital processing, Mr. Wachner's composition creates the musical equivalent of a visual kaleidoscope. As each kite is released into the air, a single melodic thread of music is similarly released, which causes the composition to increase in complexity and density as other kites ascend in the air. This interaction between visual art and music simultaneously creates a whimsical appreciation of the lightness of a kite juxtaposed against the somber heaviness of the continued depression in worldwide financial markets.
I created a work in which banknotes shaped as butterflies circulate in patterns that represent a vital connective system— Specimen-prints of currency from many countries will mimic the delicate beauty of butterflies in migratory flight, reflecting the transformative power of global mobility.
After years of observing Monarch butterflies closely, often photographing and filming at the sanctuaries in Mexico, I have come to be in awe of their collective flight. The balanced perfection of its flow is fascinating, as is and
the subtle correlation between light and the direction of the butterflies' shifting patterns.
The Monarch butterfly, during its fall migration, navigates over long distances using a time-compensated sun compass. Apparent fragility turns into energy and strength, as the winged creatures travel three thousand
kilometers on their annual route, sometimes taking advantage of wind currents to glide.
For that reason, I base the installation designs on real wind vectors, evoking the motion of air masses around the globe. The circular patterns, waves and perspective lines of the designs represent the release of energy from a hidden source and its distribution through dynamic connective patterns—a constant flow that continues through the whole life cycle.
The Gaea Foundation supports the discovery and realization of alternative social realities that are just, creative, sustainable, and authentically democratic. Aiming to bring these values to public awareness, Gaea provides the time, space, and funds through Sea Change Residencies. Outstanding activists, cultural organizers and educators, multidisciplinary visual artists, performers, writers and new media artists, academics and scholars, who are making critical headway in engaging the public with alternative social action are recognized.
The Aldrich will host an opening reception to introduce united states, a semester of solo exhibitions and artist's projects that approach both the nature of the United States as a country and "united states" as the notion of uniting separate forms, manners, or conditions of being. Subjects that are touched upon include history (and forgetfulness), war, political division, race, the economy, immigration, competition vs. cooperation, mythology, group psychology, the social contract, and consumerism. No one series of exhibitions can summarize the complexity of the meanings inherent in the concept of "united states," however the goal is not to provide closure, but rather to echo the belief that disparate entities united to form a whole are hopefully greater (and more profound) than the simple sum of parts.
Twelve artist's projects that approach both the nature of the United States as a country and "united states" as the alliance of separate forms, entities, or conditions of being.Timed to coincide with the 2012 American election season, united states is presented at a time when political and social divisions in this country are readily apparent, and polarization on many major issues is at an historical high.
united states includes projects by Jane Benson, Alison Crocetta, Celeste Fichter, Erika Harrsch, Sui Jianguo, Nina Katchadourian, Matthew Northridge, Risa Puno, John Stoney, Frances Trombly, Rosemary Williams, and Jenny Yurshansky, as well as solo exhibitions by Pedro Barbeito, Jonathan Brand, Brody Condon, Brad Kahlhamer, Brian Knep, Erik Parker, and Hank Willis Thomas.
The artists included in Paradox: The Limits of Liberty reflect in a critical manner on contemporary forms of tensions:
war –Gordon Cheung, Piers Secunda-, democracy -Alex Rodríguez, Majeed Beenteha-, religion –Yvette Mattern, Eugenio Merino, Andrés Serrano-, celebrity -Erwin Olaf-, gender –Eli Cortiñas, Erika Harrsch-, and individual freedom –Siri Hermansen, Terry Rodgers.
Paradoxically, the experience of more liberty generates even more fear of liberty. Maybe we should ask ourselves where the limits in our aspirations towards liberty are… Paco Barragán
In October 2010, at the 8th International Women's Art Festival in Aleppo, Syria, this work was censored and confiscated, security officials abruptly appeared to take down six of the framed Imago photographs in large format (100 x 90 cms). It took delicate negotiations with authorities and encounters with secret police to secure the safety of the work and myself. All the art was recovered.
The 2010 Women's Art Festival was intended as a platform for open dialogue and freedom of expression, to address controversial issues about gender in Syrian society. Paradoxically the extreme reaction against the art and censorship was initiated by a group of women who stated: "We are ashamed of the artwork and have to protect all the women in Aleppo of this embarrassment"
I witnessed the repression and atmosphere of fear that Syrian society live in specially women. After the event, Syrian newspapers and blogs showed images of the Imago Butterflies. They appeared with red and black round circles along the center, covering the genitalia. During months I kept on receiving insults and threats by email as well as expressions of praise.
In response to the events I created the "Burka-Imago" which is an inverse pattern of the black censored ones, leaving exposed what was covered.
The Imago series is a collection of twenty photographs of butterflies from different countries which are digitally fused with photographs of female genitalia. Each woman and butterfly fused together match from the same country of origin. This series explores female identity through sexuality and their related values upon ethnic diversity, cultural and ideological heritage. All women and butterflies were photographed in New York, addressing also the reconstitution, adaptability and preservation of identity after migrating.
The series include a butterfly from Nigeria, which is matched with the genitalia of a Nigerian princess who suffered from female genital mutilation at age seven.
Erika Harrsch -
Erika Harrsch: Inverted Sky
Erika Harrsch's solo show transforms ArtGate Gallery into a laboratory for thought on the joys and challenges that emerge from the intertwining of our lives in one global community. The thought-provoking installations, kites, entomological boxes, and paintings of Inverted Sky create a weave of intersecting perspectives: lives of individuals in nature, scientific calculation, commerce and trade, and questions of global ethics.
The exhibition invites the spectator to reflect, as the animated fluttering of paper butterflies in the installation Cashcube beckon viewers inside to witness species of currency butterflies. Some of these monetized butterflies are pinned etymologically as extinct specimens ready for inspection. Others migrate across paintings, sometimes freely and unpredictably, at other times suffering from the effects of economic choices on the natural environment. Harrsch invites us to consider how our lives are enmeshed in relations of interdependency.
The artworks in this exhibition depict a weave of parallel paths and interdependent dimensions that open up alternative outcomes in the search for new utopias. Will the precision of scientific objectification finally pin unique individuals into lifelessness? Both the strength of a surrealist-like humor and the brilliantly colored species of butterfly-currencies suggest otherwise: nature and its interdependent individuals, no matter how much late-modern technicians predict, measure, and manage.
The professional grade etymological butterfly boxes containing extinct European currencies -- Papilionnumismia Ephemerae Europeae -- are surely sites of reflection. Delicate and free flutterings of fragile living individuals may yet create a promising inversion, where unreachable, cloud-like imaginings float down to earth and transform a commodified environment back into an incarnate atmosphere open to creativity. In the new painting Twist, butterflies maneuver in an openness of air with uncharted possibilities. The sky is alive and there is an inversion at play.
Inverted Sky suggests a turning over of conventions and norms. Yet, exactly which inversions will emerge – and from what sources -- remains a question. On the one hand, the painting Melt shows a volcanic eruption, where the natural environment spews dust and smoke enough to paralyze a whole continent of finely-engineered aircraft. Nearby, wayward technologies spill oil. Both dust and oil cannot be separated from rivers and blood streams, visible in nearby parts of the composition. As the painting Pump suggests, the spell of spirals exists in the same world that displays ink-like splashes of petroleum sludge. Harrsch invites each viewer to palpitate and ponder the pathways that are now unfolding for us. . She subverts easy stereotypes and leads viewers to the work of questioning, without imposing closure or set answers.
Harrsch's oeuvre confronts pressing issue with spirited and compelling directness. The exhibition includes a whimsical sixteen-foot Dragon Kite, where fabric of spinnaker nylon displays an image of Mao enlarged from fragments of Chinese currency. The Dragon and the US Currency Kites premiering at ArtGate Gallery will fly prodigiously the financial center of Manhattan, at the River-to-River festival, in June of this year.
- ArtGate Gallery Press realease -