BOTH ARTISTS ARE FROM THE WEST COAST. For Corrine Fitzpatrick, whose poems are often about global issues or life in Brooklyn, the regional distinction is largely irrelevant (shy of a City Lights-trickle-down effect which, arguably, has touched many artists of my generation-whether they like it or not). For Guadalupe Rosales, though, the influence can clearly be seen in her pieces involving performances and rituals that consider place, and identity. Rosales’ involvement with The Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness (a collaborative project whose numbers fluctuated but were normally around ten with two moderators; artist Anna Hall and David Riley of Mirror Mirror), their seven month residency in 2009 at Momenta Art in Brooklyn, and her peripheral involvement with LTTR and satellite artists had previously anchored her more to processes then products. Collaborations involving living in the gallery space, refusing to claim ownership over any individual piece in an installation made by several people, sculptures of participants’ ideal genitals, and costumes made out of hair, and worn ritualistically by the performers feel rooted in the seventies and eighties-- their origins evidenced in Chicano artists like Grunk and Elsa Flores whose performances and paintings, respectively, challenged Latino art traditions in Los Angeles where murals of Aztecan utopia and peaceful multiculturalism proliferated until the seventies.
But, at some point an abrupt return (Rosales' oeuvre began with large-scale painting) to two-dimensionality began with found photographs. Worn-out images of women making pots, workers laboring in a field, people canoeing, and the landscape around a pyramid in Mexico are drawn over with colorful, geometric patterns. Her abstraction, here, is given a place—It becomes routed (or screwed to an identity) that the photographs provide. Instead of being separate from, or on top of, the drawing has the effect of making the photographs look woven into. These works, along with the aforementioned performances, shed new light on the idea of radical craft. Regionalism and conceptual art, not mutually exclusive to begin with, meet head to head, here, with equal force.
Without the photographs, however, many of the works develop a phantom presence as though the drawings are in conversation with something that we cannot see (a piece of text, a photograph, a letter, or a sign)—though, it is Rosales’ intention is to create works that require no homework on the part of the viewer. Disinterest in the academicization of work is not an unprecedented trend among many abstract painters today who are reclaiming a modernist belief in the sublime (i.e. Raoul De Keyser, Tauba Auerbach, Matt Connors, Bernd Ribbeck) and resist what many other’s still use as a critical device- the reappropriation of abstraction as critique (Peter Halley or more recently Jenny Holzer and many others) or even as index (like Travess Smalley and Sam Falls).
Anti-academic backlash is also a familiar trend in certain feminisms, whose artists have, at times, viewed institutional theorizing about their work as a collapsing, homogenizing force. In the eighties, and after, feminist art that occurred in response to this was heavily influenced by conceptual art of the 70’s and the lingering discourse around it—despite its antithesis to many a feminist treatise. Contradictions, like Judd’s in Specific Objects when he argues that “movements no longer work,” and that “linear history has unraveled” seem as odd and untrue now as they did in 1965 when the essay was written, and are important to remember as today’s abstraction edges dangerously close to design for design’s sake without considering the implications of this emptying process. A linear narrative of feminism or abstraction in art may be harder to write, but continuing to track, converse with and diversify the histories of these congruent movements remains important to Lupe’s work (and the path she took to get there) and, is inevitably tied to it.
In these pairings, Corrine’s poems act as prosthetics to Lupe’s phantoms but also as signifiers to her signs. Though both sets of work hesitate to impart any dogmatism or commitment to a specific form (a condition of postmodernism) there is a shared syntax between the two—perhaps an accidental bond created by similar cultural points of reference. Corrine’s poems and Lupe’s paintings are part of an expansive an eclectic catalogue, one that includes form and expression, symbols and accidents.
Lists, surveys, the personal and the abstract are used to describe a political uprising. Factual observations accumulate allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. One poem describes a lover’s height, or the distance between them, as though she is describing a love story someone else wrote. Clichés are read with complete sincerity exposing the frailty of systems of projection that are endlessly susceptible to misinterpretation, reappropriation and disgrace. Her use of cliché both empowers our sense of the vernacular while shaming the failures and unoriginality of our words.
The poems address gay and political issues with a sarcastic diplomacy. It is not difficult to read between the lines of her sometimes blunt, sometimes romantic lines— but Fitzpatrick never insults the reader with implied guilt.
Her poems are more often filled with desires than demands, and descriptions instead of arguments. In Honestly, I wanna live with fucking freedom she makes a rhetorical, pagan, socialist plea, to end war and global warming, with the reflectiveness of a goth teenager at an anger management seminar. In At rest I saw a crowd of people moving through my mind the story of the Arab Spring is told, at first from one person’s perspective and then from an other’s—one less subjective then the next. Both the form of the poems and the content work to appraise a Foucauldian idea of geometric forms in space-- especially rectangles and straight lines; partitioned landscapes built for control, suppression and abuse of rights—where her longer, lighter, more splayed stanzas evoke the elasticity of thought and vision she urges you to consider in a bolded preface to the poem.
Corrine’s peers, friends and mentors, offering an amalgam of influences, belie taxonomical groupings. Among them are, Zoe Leonard, Lisa Robertson, Eileen Myles, and Theresa Hubbard all of whom think, write, and create interdisciplinarily. Yet, a slight beat poetry influence can be read in her work,
especially her last poem, (the one I refer to in my head as Dana Kirk and Her Sister) but without the stylized language of Ginsberg or Ferlinghetti. Fitzpatrick’s tone is deliberately direct—she offers the reader no excuses for not understanding.
Neither Corrine Fitzpatrick nor Guadalupe Rosales are strangers to collaboration. Each is immersed in an art scene that embraces writers, filmmakers, and visual artists. And, while they know each other, this set of pairings is not collaboration, but rather an attempt on my part, to reconcile disparate trends within a community of artists—bringing into fruition a desire to conflate abstraction and language, regardless of their restricting semiotics. My love for Agnes Martin is true, but without her titles--the work, for me, might dissolve into a sea of artists from that pale, square, generation. Text was an important device to the early conceptual artists, who if nothing else, understood the way systems, patterns, and language were crucial to the process of reference. With artistic inquiry, now more then ever, so necessarily diverse, it is important, sometimes, to do an about-face (form looking in the eye of expression) to remember where our paths have crossed and where they will meet again.
Director, The Deal