MICHAELGENOVESE-Chasing.jpg

Exhibitions

Michael Genovese (Artist)

The Belly and the Members
Group Exhibition


 Manicured fields of failure, Mirror polished nickel plated steel. 110 X 1/4 inches

Manicured fields of failure, Mirror polished nickel plated steel. 110 X 1/4 inches

Curated by Antonia Marsh

"The Belly and the Members brings together artistic positions from 20 international artists that visualise and present the fragmented body as a provocative field of inquiry. Including work from a variety of media, the exhibition focuses on notions of fragmentation, dismemberment and decay specifically in relation to the human body and its inextricable psychological self. The Belly and the Members shares its title with an Aesop Fable from the 6th century BC wherein the extremities, or ‘members’, of the body go on strike in defiance of the belly who they believe to be greedily taking all the food; until they themselves weaken to the point of realisation that they cannot survive alone. The discernment that “all must work together or the body will go to pieces” becomes an allegory for a symbiotic reliance on reciprocal interrogation between artworks.

The Belly and the Members posits that the ontology of an artwork has much in common with the body: responding to pressures, meeting projected expectations and as an outward expression of an inner self whose surface remains a sensitive terrain susceptible to exterior traumas. As our interface with an external world, individually we each relate to the experience of inhabiting a body; but once dissembled, fragmented bodies stand collectively as analogies for our increasingly disparate society and global territories more generally. Living in what has been referred to as a “post-truth” world, the boundaries between fiction and reality come under scrutiny as artists compel a self-reflective reassessment of the political as well as the personal..."

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COB Website


In Plain Sight
Group Exhibition


 Geronimo, Reclaimed waxed pine and wall mounting hardware with masked dirt, blood, and saliva

Geronimo, Reclaimed waxed pine and wall mounting hardware with masked dirt, blood, and saliva

Group Exhibition w/ Jon Lowenstein and Nina Berman at Art Works Projects ⍄

 Immokalee BR2, Toner, ink, laminate and photographers hair on bond paper

Immokalee BR2, Toner, ink, laminate and photographers hair on bond paper

 Immokalee mattress patterns, Toner on bond paper.

Immokalee mattress patterns, Toner on bond paper.

 Installation view

Installation view

 Installation view

Installation view

In Plain Sight
Documentary project w/ Jon Lowenstein


 Corner of Cowboy Way and Cowgirl Way, Archival inkjet print on blue steel, 2013

Corner of Cowboy Way and Cowgirl Way, Archival inkjet print on blue steel, 2013

By car, Michael Genovese and photographer/film-maker Jon Lowenstein travelled the U.S. conducting interviews with survivors of forced labor to bring awareness to the extreme cases of victimization, which were happening in plain sight. A remarkable group of people, who endured varied levels of deception and abuse, shared their stories of debt bondage, human trafficking, child labor, and prostitution. From Washington D.C., down the East Coast, into Central Florida to New Orleans and Dallas, they worked with safe houses, labor rights organizations, and individuals, to better understand their unfortunate circumstance. Genovese and Lowenstein traced these intimate stories through photography and video, experiencing the psychic residue left behind in small towns, truck stops, trailer parks, and hotels where these incidents took place, and continue to occur.

The project resulted in an exhibition in Chicago at Art Works Projects that included the documentation by Genovese and Lowenstein, and presented Nina Berman's  photographs from her on-going investigation about the subject. Exhibition programming included a roundtable discussion with other artists, advertising creatives, non-profit service providers, and law-enforcement officers, outlining a public engagement campaign aiming to raise awareness and funds to benefit human trafficking survivors. 

In Plain Sight is an exhibition and public presentation of investigative projects about human trafficking and forced labor in the USA with work by Nina Berman, Michael Genovese, and Jon Lowenstein. Human trafficking, sexual slavery and forced labor, once thought of as international crimes, are now recognized as serious domestic issues, with thousands of cases reported each year across the USA. As a Midwestern transportation hub, Chicago is a focal point for criminals looking to profit off of slave labor. This ease of access, in combination with large vulnerable populations of undocumented immigrants and impoverished, at risk youth, has made human trafficking and forced labor a pressing local problem.

Despite engaged and progressive law enforcement at the local, county and federal level, Chicago still lacks necessary resources to provide immediate care for those fleeing brutal, violent forms of bondage. Only one safe house exists to serve the entire city. 

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Noor Documentary Foundation
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Post-Post Script
Solo Exhibition at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum


 

Tablet 9, Hand engraved text on nickel plated and mirror polished aluminum plate, 39 X 32 inches

 

Michael Genovese presents Post-Post Scriptum, the second exhibition in a series of work created during his one-year visiting artist tenure at the Frost Art Museum and Florida International University. This body of work is an interpretation of the archived information, research, and development accumulated over the past year, when Genovese studied the social commentary and drawings collected on campus and the surrounding area, through his P.S. Project (2008-12). The information gathered was designated into 16 various subjects, including: Faith, Stereotypes, and Existentialism, to capture the zeitgeist of students during a time of change. The text was then transcribed and translated into different languages, archived in an on-line repository, which was created in collaboration with the Frost Art Museum.

In this exhibition, Genovese reintroduces the information by performing as a scribe. The text is meticulously hand-engraved, using a codex designed by the artist, onto mirror polished plates of aluminum, electroplated and cut into shapes referencing relics of early civilizations from 196 B.C. and the 12th century. The shapes recall the Rosetta Stone and the Seven Tablets of Creation, but rather than the original decrees or sacred texts incised on the surface, Genovese’s inscriptions reveal the social commentary of today. Quotes such as: "Not all brown people are terrorists," or "God. Has. Forgotten. Me," reveal an intimate dialogue that marks our moment in history. The other work in the exhibition include vitrines arranged with documents of the transcriptions, photographic prints of scans and screen shots culled from the internet, collaged images, and a wall relief (Mimesis, 2012), which is a polished steel fissure that combines a tracing of a sidewalk crack found on campus and a line from a fractured fresco found in a photo of Pompeii. Curated by Klaudio Rodriguez

 Mimesis, Installation view at PPS

Mimesis, Installation view at PPS


Post-Script
Solo Exhibition at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum


Fueled by a desire to understand what it is to be human, at the most elemental of levels, contemporary artist Michael Genovese set out to examine the American public during times of transition. This four-year exchange created a social dialogue, through the most fundamental form of communication – conversation. With Post Script, Genovese presented the first of two exhibitions. Seven large-scale works pointed to his research and development, gleaned during his one-year visiting artist tenure at the Frost Art Museum and Florida International University.

He combined over 20 different surfaces, carved and written on with specific themes, such as: existentialism, dreams, and Intoxication, including works from different parts of the country to create a conversation about cross-cultural comparisons. This monochromatic exhibition featured an aluminum composite material incised with markings created by students of FIU and the general public. The plates were arranged in various compositions that pointed to works he studied from the Frost Art Museums permanent collection, including pieces by David Hockney, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, and Frederick Kiesler.

The exhibition begins with a combination of rectangles and squares that climb the wall and rest on the floor, paired with an extrusion chair made by Emmet Moore. This composition is a silhouette of Frederick Kieslers Galaxy 1, and features six aluminum composite plates that have incised drawings and social commentary from various institutions from around the country. The locations include: FIU campus, The Miami Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The University of Texas San Antonio, Loyola University, and a plate installed in a bathroom at a local billiard hall.

Next to this installation, Genovese presents a combination of work where the plates are cut to adjoin on the same plane with a circular plate mounted the center of the work. The shapes and color recall a Louis Nevelson piece from the Frost collection, held together with a set of square tubing, which references a work on paper – Chicago, 1952, by Artist Agnes Martin – and an internet symbol – Flipping Table. The plates content mix drawing and social commentary created by Miami-Dade high school students, and the surface of a lunch table from the Frost Art Museum. Continue Reading ⍄


It's Not the Heat, It's the Humility.
Solo Exhibition


 Invisible men, Hand engraved transcription of Ralph Ellison's Invisible man (1952) on polished aluminum with aircraft cables, live plants and stanchions, 70 X 260 inches. The installation is a replica of Frederick Kiesler's installation design of One: Number 31,1950 at "Jackson Pollock 1912-1956" at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome curated by Peggy Guggenheim (1958). Installation at OHWOW (2009)

Invisible men, Hand engraved transcription of Ralph Ellison's Invisible man (1952) on polished aluminum with aircraft cables, live plants and stanchions, 70 X 260 inches. The installation is a replica of Frederick Kiesler's installation design of One: Number 31,1950 at "Jackson Pollock 1912-1956" at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome curated by Peggy Guggenheim (1958). Installation at OHWOW (2009)

Michael Genovese’s work operates as a reflection, both in a conceptual context and in a literal sense. This exhibition addresses a range of subjects, from Art History to American culture, pomposity to personal debt. The artist holds up a mirror in order to understand his identity and his role in relation to these subjects, while challenging the viewer to perform the same exercise. How we define ourselves, our choice of expression, the ways we are influenced by what we read and experience, all create cause for reflection and require a measure of humility in doing so.

Genovese’s text engravings on high-polished aluminum panels are simultaneously illegible and painstakingly detailed; they are further evolved reincarnations of pulp and prose. By turning his formerly disregarded mail – unpaid bills, debt collector threats, and legal documents – into sacred objects, he aims to more accurately convey the power of burden. Also among this collection of engravings is a panel cataloging public commentary gathered from a previous project, citing nonsensical quotes like “Tippy-toe on the pooty-side” alongside profound examples: “Our dreams don’t fit on your ballot”. Another engraving plucks sections of cultural essays; from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” : “You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world…”. Two chrome-plated, twin pieces, present the myth of Narcissus – one in Spanish, the other in French.

A pentaptych of paintings, executed in a style similar to the engravings, rewrites selections from a manifesto on Futurism – a lofty art movement, full of Italian bravado, which fell short of its own expectations. “Today, let tomorrow go” is the incomprehensible message on a monochromatic black painting. In each incarnation of the two-dimensional work a reflection is forced, but an obstacle exists – the process of analysis is difficult, uncomfortable, and at times simply impossible. The overall presentation of this work is an appropriation of theories from “Art and the Power of Placement” and a nod to the bygone era of formal gallery settings.

Three large-scale sculptures continue the conversation of obstacle and experience. A porch, missing its home, is preserved like a giant chunk of amber containing the DNA of a tragic history. A bizarre arrangement of ordinary pipes and chains is elevated to grandiose through its nickel-plated treatment. Metal rails are manipulated into a circular formation, grounded with cement footings molded from traffic cones. The motive of this work is also an interactive one; an invitation to flex your agility on a course constructed to humiliate.

Accumulated sheets of paper, in actuality, weigh less than an ounce, yet can resonate the poundage of an anvil. Genovese takes intellectual ideas and gives them anatomy to match significance, while trying to preserve their original integrity. Ten-gauge aluminum panels somehow feel ephemeral, and a hulking wooden sculpture still gives a fragile impression; interpretations change depending on the view.


Resting with the petals of a rose 
Group Exhibition organized by Michelle Weinberg


 Resting with the petals of a rose, Carved blue agave

Resting with the petals of a rose, Carved blue agave

“There is a plant in the side room as well, which may be the most interesting piece in the whole show: this one is alive, and is a blue agave plant on which Genovese has carved text. Anyone familiar with his work will recognize this stylistic incorporation, as he painstakingly writes and carves his version of hieroglyphics on his works, often made of a metal. But in this case, Genovese found the writings of a self-help guru online and repeated his words on the plant, which he will continue to add to as the agave grows. It’s pretty cool all around. On the wall is a nickel- plated aluminum mirror (like everything here, a creative take on an average household object), also with a script inscribed.”Tschida, Anne. Escape this room, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
 

"Resting with the petals of a rose, by Michael Genovese is a piece with a heightened sense of symbolism. The artist who has always had an interest in codification and the representation of history through the construction and deconstruction of symbols, presents up with a blue agave plant whose leaves have been engraved with phrases extracted from self-help videos from YouTube. The job of the agave-whose leaves continually regenerate - is to incorporate the ides of evolution and continuum that underlies Genovese's work." Batet, Janet. Escape the Room, Artes y Letras, El Nuevo Herald, Miami, FL


Writ Deep
Group Exhibition


 A victim was here, Carved and incised aluminum with enameled finish

A victim was here, Carved and incised aluminum with enameled finish

Writ Deep: Craft and the embedded word
Northern Illinois University School of Art and Design
Curated by: Shannon Stratton

Rather than looking to the history of language art, Writ Deep is an exploration of the relationship between craft and text as a unique affinity between forms. Where the use of text in art has historically been to push the boundaries of the field - including operating as an anti-art form or advocating for an anti-aesthetic - text and craft share a longer history where text is anything but anti-craft.

Craft that employs text lends language a physicality: a tangible , as opposed to metaphorical, body. Craft and text is an obliging re-unification of body and mind as the abstract is made manifest both materiality and methodologically. In Writ Deep the idea of the embedded text connects the work of Michael Dinges, Michael Genovese, Carol Jackson and Rebecca Ringquist whose processes of scrimshaw, engraving, weather tooling, and embroidery and appliqué (respectively) are rooted in craft traditions. Each of these artists is invested in these forms as their chosen medium, as opposed to utilized them strictly for a singular metaphor, and each employs text as a major mark in their work. 

 You, Carved snd incised aluminum with enameled finish

You, Carved snd incised aluminum with enameled finish

To embed something means to plant it firmly and deeply in surrounding mass. In the case of text and craft, the word is surrounded by material that supports, informs and contextualizes it in a way that the page alone cannot. In a craft/text relationship, the material substrate becomes a body for the text to inhabit, not just a supporting surface. Through methodologies like engraving, etching and embroidery, text impregnates the material, creating a resolute bond that literally alters or changes the substrate through a kind of scoring or scarring of the surface - actions that call to mind a body as it might be scratched and scarred through use or through decoration. Scars are telling reminders of a body’s history; in the case of text, materiality and craft, the connection between method of incision and the substrate itself becomes one that is partially dependent on the material’s narrative and partially dependent on the narrative inherent to the process. Continue Reading ⍄


Sign Language w/ Juan Angel Chavez
University of Texas San Antonio


 Installation view, University of Texas, San Antonio

Installation view, University of Texas, San Antonio

Organized by Kimberly Aubuchon

San Antonio Express
Signs of the times by Elda Silva

“Genovese is a sculptor, but his medium is social interaction. In an ongoing project, Genovese, who worked as a sign painter, approaches street vendors — mostly Latinos — offering to paint their food carts for “Lo que puedes pagar” or “What you can pay.” Genovese is generally met with varying degrees of mistrust, and sometimes outright hostility.

Genovese figures he “wins” maybe one out of 12 carts. His payment frequently comes in the form of fruit. Recently, he upped the ante on the project, building the carts himself and giving them out on the streets. “Sign Language” includes an example of one of the carts made out of lightweight aluminum panels with engraving on the baked enamel finish.

The show also includes aluminum panels Genovese has set out at different venues for participants to cover in graffiti — an etched record of hopes, aspirations, frustrations and confessions that range from the banal to the profound.

“The idea behind this is, ‘What would be different in San Antonio that people write down than people write down in Chicago. Aesthetically, it will be the same, that’s one thing. But the actual content — what is on here, what is not on here, what are people actually hoping for,” he says. “And the scope, we have from mentally challenged kids to artists to poets — it’s like the whole spectacle of society that gets captured on these surfaces.”

ARTLIES: Contemporary Art Quarterly
Sign Language at Unit B and University of Texas San Antonio
Ben Judson Issue #46

“Genovese’s work reveals an artist casting about—looking for different ways to incorporate his background into a contemporary gallery context. As a result, his contributions to the exhibition feel more like a survey than a focused body of work. At UTSA, a fruit cart reading “Corn Piraguas Chicharrones” in Genovese’s distinctive script shares the space with chaotic freeform etchings, leather impressed belts and a rack piled with signs promoting one of the artist’s previous exhibitions. The fruit cart is part of a larger project in which Genovese offers to paint (or repaint) the carts of street vendors for whatever they can afford, or builds a new cart and offers it to the vendor. In a talk at the opening he recounted how often vendors rebuff his offers, figuring him for a con man of some sort. When crossing cultural boundaries, an anonymous act of charity can often be viewed as a trick or act of condescension. Genovese asks strangers not just to buy his art but to have it emblazoned on the vehicle of their livelihood, mingling his professional identity with theirs in a way that demands a certain level of trust. There is a sort of antagonism in this act; the artist is daring strangers to take him at his word. What is not clear is whether Genovese intends to clarify a source of antagonism or demonstrate a kind of positive interpersonal dynamic through charity.

In other works, Genovese seems interested in taking snapshots of human behavior, be they aggressive, generous, intellectual or profane. He encourages viewers to scratch marks on blank metal panels—a kind of uncontrolled “permission” graffiti, which he later presents as an image of the community in which it was created. Completed versions of these etchings are on view at both spaces, along with blank surfaces to record the random thoughts of San Antonio’s art citizenry. This is a reversal of the carts: rather than asking to mark someone else’s property, he’s asking strangers to mark on his work—to mingle their thoughts with his professional identity. Ironically, this feels more like an act of charity than offering to paint fruit carts. I’m not sure that either action gets to the heart of antagonism or charity, but this is partly due to the fact that the exhibits do not fully commit to this exploration. Signs painted with phrases like “We’re all we’ve got” in different languages muddle what could be a poignant journey into social space.”- Ben Judson


"We All We Got"
Solo Exhibition


Piraguas, “We all we got”, Installation view

 Installation view, MCA 1-5, Carved aluminum, baked enamel finish.

Installation view, MCA 1-5, Carved aluminum, baked enamel finish.

Layers of neon pink and green paper painted with bold letters are plastered over the gallery wall like flyers that accumulate on urban buildings or discount signs at grocery stores. These attention-grabbing colors, created from unmixed sign paint, draw the viewer to concise yet open-ended, multilingual thoughts about society. Zora Neale Hurston's observation, "All my skin folk ain't all my kin folk,"and the artist's own mantra, "We all we got," are written in Korean, Urdu, German, French, Spanish, Polish, and Bosnian on these humble posters. In the engravings displayed nearby, the two quotes reappear alongside further social commentary and unknown names tangled within baroque patterning. Where the signs are bright, outgoing, spontaneous, and fragile, the intricate engravings on tar-colored sign substrate are dark, inward, laborious, and relatively permanent. While the signs evoke grassroots advertising, the engravings evoke dangerous and secret forms of expression, such as scratchings on trains and buses, in bathroom stalls, or on desks at the back of a classroom. Executed during his residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, these text-based works draw on familiar modes of communication encountered at stores or on the street in order to capture contemporary voices.

To better record language that is alive, Genovese created this set of signs and engravings in collaboration with visitors and staff at the MCA. Avoiding static dictionary definitions, he enlisted native speakers at the museum to translate the phrases he ultimately painted on neon posters. Likewise, the intricate engravings produced during this residency were built up from messages carved by museum goers. Because of his insistence on a human element in his work, Genovese's interaction with everyday life as art has a sincerity that is lacking in the innovative contributions of Marcel Duchamp and Pop Art to this terrain. While Duchamp appropriated ordinary objects, Genovese, informed by his prior career as a specialty sign painter and sign contractor, creates his pieces with his own hands. While Pop artists tended to aestheticize the vernacular, Genovese's work is grounded more in a collaborative process than in an aesthetic. Genovese effectively resurrects Josef Beuys' conception of "social sculpture" whereby social interaction is a work of art and every person is an artist ”without the utopian promise Beuys championed. Though his works often involve painting, then, it is clear that Genovese's medium is not strictly paint, nor is it simply industrial sign materials; he also works with the abstract media of language and human interaction.


Institutionalized
MCA Chicago


 Kin Folk, (Quote: "All my skin folk ain't all my kin folk," Zora Neale Hurston) House paint, MDF, and fluorescent lighting fixtures, 96 X 144 inches, 2008

Kin Folk, (Quote: "All my skin folk ain't all my kin folk," Zora Neale Hurston) House paint, MDF, and fluorescent lighting fixtures, 96 X 144 inches, 2008

Institutionalized was a project conceived for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago's winter artist in residency wherein Michael Genovese set up a studio in the museum for a 6 week program. The work included engaging the museum visitors and staff through language and text where different mediums combined with studio work reflected the voices of the public during a time of "Change." Participatory works involved translating American literature, automatic writing samples and social commentary into foreign languages that allowed for the interpretations to change and morph. The results were made into text based paintings, collaborative drawings on aluminum composite panels, and performances of solicitation. Other works included a push cart designed to provide museum visitors and staff with free fresh fruit and water

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MIke Genovese