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Speculative: An Evening of Performance

June 30, 2011 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

30 June 2011, 7 – 9 pm
A Thursday Nights at LACE program

As part Speculative, curated by Zach Blas and Christopher O’Leary, LACE is pleased to host an evening of performance featuring Zach BlasMicha Cárdenas, MAL IDEA (Michelle A. Lee), Elle Mehrmand, Chris O’Leary, and Malcolm Smith as part of the Thursday Nights at LACE program.

An instructional demonstration by Queer Technologies (Zach Blas) will introduce and consider new scientific and technological developments in gay facial recognition, oftentimes known as “fag face.” After familiarizing the audience on these techniques, Queer Technologies will offer a suite of possibilities for resisting these mechanisms of facial recognition-control.

Micha Cárdenas’s  Kind of Controlled Alchemy is a live speculation and diagram in which the artist explores the desire for, and fear of, feminizing surgeries including Facial Feminization Surgery. The performance originated in response to Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Roberta Breitmore series and Kate Craig-Wood’s website iwanttobeagirl.org, which is problematic in its focus on the “normal” and absolute endorsement of surgery.This performance explores often-downplayed feelings of indecision experienced by transgendered persons facing the medical/legal/psychiatric nexus of power. The work also highlights the genderqueer perspective in addressing deep reservations and concerns about surgery as the preferred option for trans people.

In Unlabeled (L.A.), MAL IDEA offers participants a small gift to be consumed, traded, or otherwise used as one sees fit. Depending on one’s subject position, the gesture could come as a welcome surprise or a disquieting burden. Sourced from a wide variety of locales within Los Angeles County, one may find the contents of each container to be wholly unfamiliar or entirely pedestrian. Without the mediation of images or descriptive text, participants must encounter each object through direct experience, trusting one’s own empirical observations and intuition rather than relying on printed visual and textual aids. The surrounding urban environment saturated with seemingly endless choices, MAL IDEA asks the audience to accept the unknown; for a short period suspending personal choice and embracing chance.

wiki-abmeyad addresses the issues of diasporic subjects, transnational politics, and the relationship between art and science through the use of digital cloning and sensing technologies. In this ritualistic performance Mehrmand sings wikileaks cables about Iran in Farsi and English with a Persian daf drum and an ironic headscarf from American Apparel. The holographic performance of her digitized clone enacts the split subject to explore diaspora as fragmentation, dis/location and fractures within spaces, while terrorizing and subverting a traditionally militarized use of technology  Wiki-abmeyadcontinues Mehrmand’s research on organic interfaces for music making, expanding on the use of the body as an instrument to include the temporal and spatial relationships between bodies and machines.

O’Leary’s Calamity Tales is a narrated slideshow which borrows its form from children’s literature, comic books and apocalyptic film. Conflating cuteness with cruelty, the piece explores a poisoned world inhabited by survivors and mutants. Read by the artist, the performance imagines the impossible task of explaining doom to a child.

Malcolm Smith will present a new work, Eye Meets Eye.

Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and the political. His on-going project, Queer Technologies, is a collective that produces critical applications, tools, and situations for queer technological agency, interventions, and social formation. Zach has exhibited at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, England, Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Fe Arts gallery in Pittsburgh, File Electronic Language International Festival in Brazil, and the 2010 Arse Elektronika Festival in San Francisco, where he was the recipient of a Prixxx Arse Elektronika. He has participated in residencies on “Art and Resistance”  at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Chiapas, Mexico, “On the Commons; or, Believing-Feeling- Acting Together” at the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, and “Devisualize” at the Medialab Prado, Madrid, Spain. Rhizome.org has recently interviewed him, and he has published in a Mínima, E-misférica, Version, and Schlossplatz³ and has articles forthcoming in The Fibreculture Journal, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Reclamations Journal, and networkpolitics.org. His work has been written about in Wired, Canon Magazine, and the South Atlantic Quarterly. He is one of the founding members of the Public School Durham and a PhD student in Literature, Information Science + Information Studies, Visual Studies, and Women?s Studies at Duke University. He also holds an MFA from UCLA, a Post-Baccalaureate certificate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BS from Boston University. Visit www.zachblas.info or www.queertechnologies.info for more information.

Micha Cárdenas is an artist/theorist whose transreal work mixes physical and networked spaces in order to explore emerging forms of queer relationality, biopolitics and DiY horizontal knowledge production. She will be starting her PhD at the interdivisional program in Media Arts and Practice (iMap) at University of Southern California in Fall 2011. Micha is the interim Associate Director of art and technology for UCSD’s Sixth college in the Culture, Art and Technology program.  She is an artist/researcher with the UCSD School of Medicine, CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. She was previously a lecturer in the Visual Arts department and Critical Gender Studies program at UCSD. Her recent publications include Trans Desire/Affective Cyborgs, with Barbara Fornssler, from Atropos Press, “I am transreal”, in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation from Seal Press and “Becoming Dragon: a Transversal Technology Study” in Code Drift from CTheory. Her collaboration with Elle Mehrmand, “Mixed Relations,” was the recipient of the UCIRA emerging Fields award for 2009. She has exhibited and performed in biennials, museums and galleries in cities around the world including Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, New York, San Francisco, Montreal, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, Dublin, Ireland and many other places. Her work has been written about in publications including art21, the associated press, the LA Times, CNN, BBC world, Wired  and Rolling Stone Italy. Visit http://transreal.org for more info.

MAL IDEA (Michelle A. Lee, b. San Francisco, CA. Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) received a BFA in Intermedia and a BA in Film and Digital Media from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a MAAH from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Working with sculptural materials, found objects, and everyday consumer goods, MAL IDEA explores ideas about human hubris and fragility, privilege and distance, contemporary life and urban malaise. MAL IDEA has lived and worked in Philadelphia, New York, Berlin, Chicago, and Los Angeles. MAL IDEA has recently exhibited at d.e.n. contemporary – Pacific Design Center. Find out more at www.mal-idea.info.

Elle Mehrmand is a performance artist and musician who uses the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her work. She is the singer and trombone player of assembly of Mazes, a music collective who creates dark, electronic, middle eastern, rhythmic jazz rock. Elle is currently an MFA candidate at UCSD, and received her BFA in art photography with a minor in music at CSULB. She is a collective member of the Electronic Disturbance Theatre 2.0 and the b.a.n.g. lab, and is a researcher at CRCA <Center for Research and Computing in the Arts> at UCSD. Her work has been internationally shown at venues such as LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), Highways Performance Space, Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), UCLA Freud Playhouse, Cecut, The Nevada Museum of Art, and the Gallery of the Nat’l College of Art and Design. She has been discussed in Artforum, art21, the LA Times, Juxtapoz Magazine, wireD, Networked Performance, the LA & OC Weekly,  Furtherfield.org, the cityBeat, and Vice Magazine. Visit www.assemblyofmazes.com

Christopher O’Leary is an artist who works in video, photography and installation while employing a variety of digital and new media processes. He explores conceptions of futurity and superpower as depicted in science fiction, comic book culture and history at large. His projects conflate these genres with the conventions of video art and photography using the human form for its performative and embodied qualities while borrowing from the multiverse of archetypes and themes from sci-fi. His research focuses on fictions of human potential and atemporal narratives, using them as critical mirror to the anxieties of civilization. The “super-body” (the hero’s body, the cyborg’s body, the mutant’s body) comes to embody cultural fears and escape fantasies engendered by cycles of innovation, progress and collapse. Christopher has shown his work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Belgrade, Istanbul, Rome and Torun, Poland. In 2009 he held his first solo exhibition in Rome Italy at ALI gallery. He recently exhibited in the show Spaceship Earth at the center for contemporary art in Torun, Poland. He holds an appointment as Lecturer of Digital photography at UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts. Christopher received his MFA from UCLA and his BFA from the University of Washington. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. www.chrisoleary.net

Malcolm Smith is an artist who has presented solo and collaborative work in galleries and festivals, nationally and abroad.

For more information on Speculative and related programming, click here.


June 30, 2011
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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