Author Archives: ficusinterfaith

Frame House Whereabouts

Ficus Interfaith
Frame House Whereabouts

September 14 – October 21, 2018

Interstate Projects
Opening Reception September 14, 6-9pm

 

 

The word ‘building’ is both a noun and a verb: the structure itself and the act of making it. As a noun, a building is shelter that has a roof, walls and stands more or less permanently in one place.

Ancient households layered sand to cover compacted earth; creating a warm, soft covering that could be replaced regularly. In some dwellings, seed shells such as peanut and sunflower were scattered across the floor. As it was walked on, the oil from the shells would coat the occupants’ feet and become spread out across the ground, hardening its surface while making it more compact, stable, and free of dust.

Archaeologists use the term, terrazzo, to describe some of the floors created over 10,000 years ago in Neolithic settlements across Western Asia. Excavation notes illustrate beautiful, dusty pads of mottled stone chips pressed and polished into patterns in the ground. This practice continued through antiquity as marble artisans fashioned the floors of their own homes with the leftover marble tile scraps from the days’ work. Today, many of the aggregates used in terrazzo are pulled from the industrial waste-stream, continuing its history of reuse in construction.

For this exhibition, Ficus Interfaith presents a series of terrazzo frames. These frames, along with an additional suite of sculptures, describe navigating a house. The works occupy two floors, vibrating between the distinctions of display room and domestic space. Windows and doors operate as metaphors for other worlds, portals with the potential to activate your imagination. Embracing the spirit of collaboration and highlighting the pragmatism of reuse, the sculptures invite all to ‘play house’. The gallery acts as a skeleton with borrowed flesh, the unlived foundation of a more complete and separately constructed space.


Ficus Interfaith
 (is a collaboration between Ryan Bush (b. 1990, Denver CO) and Raphael Cohen (b. 1989, New York, NY). As much a research initiative as a sculptural practice, Ficus Interfaith pursues projects that focus on their personal and collective interactions with nature and natural history. Their work has been exhibited at Prairie (Chicago, IL), Alyssa Davis (NYC), MX Gallery (NYC) and Gern en Regalia (NYC) and they were artists in residence this year at 2727 California Street (Berkeley, CA) and Shandaken: Storm King (NY).

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http://www.interstateprojects.org/index.php?/ficus-interfaith/

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Your heart is fine feeling the widest
possible empathy for the day and its inhabitants

Thanks for looking at the wind
in the top of the eucalyptus
dancing like someone you know
well ‘I’m here I’m here I’m here!’

The wind picks up
a rush of leaves waving

wildly for your understanding
—apple, plum, bamboo
rooted and flourishing
next to your home
in the air awake

without defect

June 17, 2000

Clay Club

Projects by artists Alisa Baremboymektor garciaFicus InterfaithSteffani JemisonSara Magenheimer, and Jesse Wine & Cassie Griffin.

Clay Club 2018 Playlists by AHMDLizzi Bougatsos, and Diamond Stingily.

SculptureCenter was founded as Clay Club in 1928 by sculptor Dorothea Denslow. While Clay Club’s art courses and exhibitions generally took place in Denslow’s Brooklyn studio, or, slightly later, in a carriage house on West 8th Street, the organization’s artists and students gathered on Staten Island every summer from 1928 to 1939 to picnic and collectively build temporary monumental sculptures out of natural clay.

On Saturday, August 18, SculptureCenter will revive its founding summer tradition by inviting six artists to reconsider the idea of group sculpture that motivated the original Clay Club parties. SculptureCenter’s Long Island City exhibition space will open to the public with more than two thousand pounds of clay available for participation in artist-led projects or for free use.

Join us on Saturday, August 18 from 10am to 2pm, for music, food and drinks by local vendors including Hibino LIC, Levante, and The Mill, and drop-in art projects. This program is free, open to the public, and for all ages. No RSVP is required.

Dance of the Mudmixers
Compilation of 16mm archival footage of Clay Club’s summer picnic on Staten Island

This is SculptureCenter’s second annual Clay Club program. Last year’s Clay Club artists were Christian Holstad, Joanna Malinowska, Kate Newby, Hayley Silverman and Ser Serpas, Agathe Snow, and Patrice Renee Washington, with music by SHYBOI (KUNQ/DISCWOMAN).

 

 

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Summer Terrazzos

summer_terrazzossummer_terrazzos_tavasummer_terrazzostavadetailsummer_terrazzos_detailsummer terrazzzo 4clover at nightIMG_9685webIMG_9661webIMG_9643webIMG_9620webIMG_9696webIMG_9709webIMG_9644webIMG_9647webIMG_9612webIMG_9701webIMG_9663webIMG_9616webIMG_9690webIMG_9634webIMG_9618webIMG_9693webIMG_9652webIMG_9640web‘Summer Terrazzos’

Ficus Interfaith

July 14, 2018 – August 26, 2018

Prairie

Prairie is pleased to announce ‘Summer Terrazzos’ a solo presentation from Ficus Interfaith opening Saturday July 14 from 7-10pm. The exhibition runs from July 14 – August 26, 2018.

 

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While humans are similar to other animals, sharing 98.5 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees for example, our species is undoubtedly different. Over the last few months we have created six terrazzo compositions using various stone, glass and plastic aggregates. As part of an ongoing terrazzo project, these works explore the ways humans have attempted to locate themselves in nature, i.e., a comparison with the things most similar to ourselves.

A key characteristic that appears to set us apart as human is that we can think about alternative futures and make deliberate choices accordingly. When a hurricane is approaching, we use systems of language and technology to warn each other. Special computers measure changes in the wind, sirens sound, and vehicles carry us to safer places. We can imagine what might happen and then act appropriately to ultimately preserve our species. Although the topic is still under debate, other animals are also able to predict an impending hurricane. Research shows that birds can sense environmental changes such as drops in barometric pressure and infrasound waves. In response, as storms approach they will often land to wait for it to pass. Similarly, sharks and large fish will swim out to deeper water and land animals will move to higher ground. How do these creatures know what to do and what actions to take to bolster their chances of survival?

In ways that we do not fully understand, animals are sensitive to the most minute shifts in the environment. They use this vigilance to navigate the world in the same way humans use technology, however because we are unable to imagine the mental levels at which animals operate, we repeatedly deny them the forms of agency we take for granted in ourselves. Birds did not discover flight as humans did; flight discovered birds. In this way, our humanness is blinding and can become very lonely. We feel disconnected from every other animal, and project our emotions and ideas onto them and onto the environment we share. It is comforting to describe a dog “acting joyful” or to witness a chimpanzee “having a tantrum” and Pooh Bear would not look as cute without his red T-shirt. The queen ant and her slaves, the man in the moon, the mouth of a river and the eye of a storm are also examples of the anthropomorphism that tries to shape nature into a reflection of our species.

Recently, humans have gone so far as to name each and every hurricane. For several hundred years after the Europeans arrived many hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint’s day on which the hurricane occurred. For example, there was “Hurricane Santa Ana” which struck Puerto Rico on July 26, 1825, and “San Felipe ” and “San Felipe II” which hit Puerto Rico on September 13 in both 1876 and 1928. More recently, the United States began using female names for storms, after abandoning a confusing two-year old plan in 1953 to name storms using a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie) when a new international phonetic alphabet was introduced.  The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men’s and women’s names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists.

Today, the World Meteorological Organization has a strict procedure for naming these storms. For Atlantic hurricanes, there is a list of male and female names which are used on a six-year rotation. The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that using the name again would be inappropriate. In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in a season, any additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.

We are unaware of any systems of naming that animals may have for storms. Many animals use complex and varied vocal patterns to describe changes in their environment but are limited with their episodic memory and mental time travel capabilities. However, there is strong evidence that dolphins name themselves with signature whistles and gorillas that have been taught sign language appear to understand names and ask for other animals and keepers by their name. In the attempt to understand animal behavior human-like comparisons can be useful, harmful, or both if the results serve only the interests of humans.

Dutch primatologist and ethologist Frans de Waal argues, “To rail against anthropomorphism for the sake of scientific objectivity often hides a pre-Darwinian mindset, one uncomfortable with the notion of humans as animals. When we are considering species like the apes, which are aptly known as “anthropoids” (humanlike), however, anthropomorphism is in fact a logical choice. Dubbing an ape’s kiss “mouth-to-mouth contact” so as to avoid anthropomorphism deliberately obfuscates the meaning of the behavior. It would be like assigning Earth’s gravity a different name than the moon’s, just because we think Earth is special.” But the Earth is special in that it’s the only planet we know of that holds life – animal and human.  

Western religious ideas describe humans and animals as products of intentional divine creation, with humans uniquely formed in the likeness of their deity and thus enjoying a privileged role in the intended workings of the cosmos — including, for example, access to an afterlife.  A modern biological view of the world, however, supports the idea that our species as we know it emerged a few hundred thousand years ago, and that we are are only one species of animal among many — one leaf of one branch of the phylogenetic tree of life and enjoy no particular special status. If or when we (hopefully!) make contact with extraterrestrial life, how human will we feel? Will we feel more or less connected?

 

Ficus Interfaith

 

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“The Perfect World” by Kahlil Gibran

God of lost souls, thou who are lost amongst the gods, hear me:

Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hear me:

I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect.

I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongst finished worlds—peoples of complete laws and pure order, whose thoughts are assorted, whose dreams are arranged, and whose visions are enrolled and registered.

Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, and even the countless things that pass in the dim twilight of neither sin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued.

Here days and night are divided into seasons of conduct and governed by rules of blameless accuracy.

To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one’s nudity, and then to be weary in due time.

To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still when the clock strikes the hour.

To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking and feeling when a certain star rises above yonder horizon.

To rob a neighbour with a smile, to bestow gifts with a graceful wave of the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, to destroy a sound with a word, to burn a body with a breath, and then to wash the hands when the day’s work is done.

To love according to an established order, to entertain one’s best self in a preconceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly, to intrigue the devils artfully—and then to forget all as though memory were dead.

To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to be happy sweetly, to suffer nobly—and then to empty the cup so that tomorrow may fill it again.

All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born with determination, nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directed by reason, and then slain and buried after a prescribed method. And even their silent graves that lie within the human soul are marked and numbered.

It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world of supreme wonders, the ripest fruit in God’s garden, the master-thought of the universe.

But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilled passion, a mad tempest that seeketh neither east nor west, a bewildered fragment from a burnt planet?

Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?

At the End of the Game You Will Be Forgotten 

Organized by inparadi.se (Amelia Farley and Henry Osman)

Alyssa Davis Gallery

April 19, 2018 – May 20, 2018

André Filipek, Bea Fremderman, Georgia Horgan, Ficus Interfaith, Isabelle Frances McGuire, Adam Shiu-Yang Shaw, Fin Simonetti, Loney Abrams & Johnny Stanish,

 

Consider a digsite. Digging is always a vertical movement, down into the archaeological matrix. Each layer, defined as a unit of sedimentation greater than one centimeter thick, is separated from previous layers by an event. A fire, a flood. These intervals are discrete changes in the character of the material being deposited.

Esther Leslie argues that excavation is an ‘inverted’ astrology. “Astrologers study the forces and influences of the stars,” she writes, while excavators discover “the manifold properties of earth and stone strata.” Geology is regarded as nature’s writing, a cipher language. “The language of our world is reflected in the underworld, if subject to decoding.” 1

What time is it?

All possible histories are encoded in the strata. A temple column supports a basilica’s nave; broken palaces find their way into household walls. A fine intaglio is encrusted with black accretions and dusted with so many layers of silt and sand that it becomes a pebble. At the digsite, such actors, both artifactual and ecofactual, must be coaxed into speaking.

The thickness of an event, and the earth in which it is held; an open shaft; the patina of an old chair; the carbon cycle. Nothing is new, and nothing is not new.

1. Leslie, Esther. Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry. London: Reaktion Books/Univ. Chicago Press, 2007. 38-39.

 

Alyssa-Davis-Paradise-21-1250x938Ficus Interfaith, Redwood at Night (title by Frank Traynor), 2018

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Act II, Scene 6

Friar Laurence’s cell.

[Enter FRIAR LAURENCE and ROMEO]

  • Friar LaurenceSo smile the heavens upon this holy act,
    That after hours with sorrow chide us not!
  • RomeoAmen, amen! but come what sorrow can,
    It cannot countervail the exchange of joy
    That one short minute gives me in her sight:
    Do thou but close our hands with holy words,
    Then love-devouring death do what he dare;
    It is enough I may but call her mine.
  • Friar LaurenceThese violent delights have violent ends
    And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
    Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey
    Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
    And in the taste confounds the appetite:
    Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
    Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
    [Enter JULIET]
    Here comes the lady: O, so light a foot
    Will ne’er wear out the everlasting flint:
    A lover may bestride the gossamer
    That idles in the wanton summer air,
    And yet not fall; so light is vanity.
  • JulietGood even to my ghostly confessor.
  • JulietAs much to him, else is his thanks too much.
  • RomeoAh, Juliet, if the measure of thy joy
    Be heap’d like mine and that thy skill be more
    To blazon it, then sweeten with thy breath
    This neighbour air, and let rich music’s tongue
    Unfold the imagined happiness that both
    Receive in either by this dear encounter.
  • JulietConceit, more rich in matter than in words,
    Brags of his substance, not of ornament:
    They are but beggars that can count their worth;
    But my true love is grown to such excess
    I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.
  • Friar LaurenceCome, come with me, and we will make short work;
    For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone
    Till holy church incorporate two in one.

[Exeunt]

In the forest where I hid I found a dog at night. Sick, hungry and perhaps also crazy. I fell on his neck and cried like a child. It wouldn’t be a surprise if I were to say that at that moment, I was jealous of the animals. What I felt was more than jealousy. It was shame. I was ashamed for the dog that I was not a dog, but a human.