Flux Factory and EFA Project Space are proud to present Arctic Book Club, on view from September 18 through October 24, at EFA Project Space in Manhattan. Curated by Jean Barberis and Michelle Levy, this exhibition is the result of a several-month long process embarked on by a group of artists responding to the book, An African in Greenland.
By partnering with Flux Factory on this exhibition, EFA Project Space furthers its goal to provide a space for collaboration with other art and cultural organizations, thus bridging gaps in the art community and expanding audiences for the arts.
Tété-Michel Kpomassie’s book, An African in Greenland, serves as memoir, ethnography, and travelogue, and is the account of the author’s unique journey from his native Togo to Greenland. As a young man living in Africa, Kpomassie happened across a children’s book about Greenland. Fascinated with the distant Arctic island, he embarked on a remarkable ten-year journey across Africa and Europe, working as a translator along the way, and eventually saving enough money to complete his odyssey and live in Greenland.
In the Spring of 2009, Flux Factory and EFA assembled a cross-disciplinary group of artists to respond to Kpomassie’s book, meeting regularly in the form of a book club. Upon completion of the book, the artists were then tasked to create new work inspired by their internalization of Kpomassie’s narrative and the resulting discussions.
On September 23 at 6:30 pm, Arctic Book Club welcomes Tété-Michel Kpomassie in a public conversation exploring his response to the exhibition and reflections on his experiences since having left Greenland.
Highlights of the exhibition include The Green & Bold Coöperative’s installation and interactive performance: the artists welcome visitors with kaffemik, a common Greenland tradition of hospitality, while continuously hand-scribing a manuscript of the narrative. Another performance is Christopher Ulivo’s theatrical tribute to the story through a shadow puppet theater. The artist has created whimsical scenery and puppet silhouettes for a script that will be acted out by the artists in the show. Live performances will take place at the opening, and a video with a musical score will be on view throughout the show.
Fabienne Lasserre’s wall-mounted installation of (fake) human hair encased in dripping plaster incorporates visceral interpretations of psychological environment, suggesting a haunting other-worldly realm. Katerina Lanfranco’s large-scale paper cutout, dramatically depicting icebergs submerged in water, stands in bold contrast to her small, precious glass “snowflakes.” Also playing with perception, documentary artist Amber Cortes projects an altered version of the 1922 “Nanook of the North,” providing, through the use of superimposed text and sound, a contradiction to this classic, naive representation of the Arctic Greenlanders.
Ranbir Sidhu, novelist, playwright, and book club moderator, will provide a creative text in response to Kpomassie’s narrative.
The complete list of artists is: Amber Cortes, Jenelle Covino, The Green and Bold Cooperative, Katerina Lanfranco, Fabienne Lasserre, Valerie Piraino, Greg Pond, Annie Reichert, Julian Rogers, Ranbir Sidhu, Christopher Ulivo.
An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition.