Art in General opens shows in partnership with the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia

David Kennedy Cutler: Force Quit curated by Kristen Chappa
Juntae TeeJay Hwang: Blue Salmon
curated by Anne Barlow 

Exhibition: October 8–30, 2016

Opening reception: Friday, October 7, 2016; 6-8pm
Location: ARS Projektiruum
Pärnu mnt 154, Tallinn 11317

Art in General presents two solo exhibitions of newly commissioned work by David Kennedy Cutler and Juntae TeeJay Hwang in partnership with the Center for Contemporary Arts in Tallinn, Estonia. Both artists investigate issues of identity from personal perspectives and larger cultural trends, as mediated by contemporary digital culture. This project, which is part of Art in General’s International Collaborations program, is generously supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, New York.

David Kennedy Cutler: Force Quit, curated by Kristen Chappa
David Kennedy Cutler’s forthcoming installation and performance investigates two motifs—the body and the tool—as instruments of labor, and as forms through which to consider the capabilities of the self. Cutler employs his own physicality as artistic material, alongside ubiquitous personal items such as clothing, food, and other possessions that are used in close relationship to the body. Handheld scanners and software applications are utilized to reproduce and manipulate these objects in an uncanny, trompe l’oeil aesthetic that communicates the tension and ever-increasing hybridity between physical and digital space. Hovering between photography and sculpture, these artworks become hyper-representations of Cutler’s daily interface with the world. 

The artist’s own likeness appears prominently; in video and performance, Cutler attempts laborious and futile tasks in a skin suit that mimics the mediated remove of his sculptural objects, serving as a type of tangible avatar. The doubling costume also transforms Cutler into a caricature of himself as “the artist.” Inside, he enacts Sisyphean efforts in frustrated cycles; attempts to catch bread while blinded or upright a soft-stuffed dummy speak to the difficulty of maintaining self-dignity as both artist and laborer in a time of socio-economic duress. Using himself as a case study, Cutler is furthermore interested in the tendency toward isolation and self-obsession in contemporary digital culture, as highly influenced by new technologies. 

The image of a rudimentary, homemade hammer is also a central feature of the project; this object acts as an extension of Cutler’s body and his position as both artist and art handler—suggestive of complex class-based associations. The hammer’s proliferation in a repeat pattern creates an immersive environment that references common tiling tools and outmoded websites, as well as the easy reproducibility of both digital images and industrially-produced products. The somewhat horrific number of reoccurrences furthermore speaks to our contemporary condition characterized by incessant labor, while serving as a record of Cutler’s own accumulated effort. 

Within our hyper-capitalist era, our labor defines us, and arguably limits us. Often, the only conceivable expression of the self is how we depict ourselves with online images, or through the work that we have done. The title of this exhibition references the operation of shutting down an application or computer when unresponsive, bridging ideas around labor and image as representations of the self, while suggesting a potential escape from normative conditions of constant production. More than mere critique, Force Quit aims to convey how present-day capitalism feels and impacts those caught in its unrelenting systems. Here, the project is aptly presented within a former studio space and factory owned by the Estonian Artists’ Association—as such, it points to a broader discussion about labor that can have flexible meanings in varying contexts with different historical and political resonances. 

David Kennedy Cutler is a Brooklyn-based artist born in Sandgate, Vermont. His solo exhibitions include Derek Eller Gallery, New York (2009, 2012) and Nice & Fit, Berlin (2004, 2006). Cutler's work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions,including Low, Lyles & King, New York (2016); Pure Pulp, Wellin Museum at Hamilton College, Clinton and The Dedalus Foundation, Brooklyn (2016); Beyond the Surface: Image as Object, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia (2015), and Eric’s Trip, Lisa Cooley Gallery, New York (2014). Cutler has been awarded a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Artist Residency (2012-2013), the SIP Fellowship from Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (2012), a Workspace Residency with Dieu Donné (2010), an Award for Artists from Printed Matter (2012), and an Emergency Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2008). His work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Modern Painters, and The Washington Post. Cutler received his B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Juntae TeeJay Hwang: Blue Salmon, curated by Anne Barlow 
Juntae TeeJay Hwang’s practice stems from his personal experience living as an uncanny foreigner in the West. Having left Korea at the age of twelve to attend school in the US and UK, Hwang engages with the collisions, misunderstandings and prejudice that can arise when different cultures come together. Often drawing on the aesthetics of South Korean pop culture and North Korean propaganda, his work attempts to deconstruct Western-centric globalized imagery through a variety of media, including video, installation, painting, and performance. His practice spans a range of approaches, from those that are more confrontational and aggressive in tone, to those that present a more immersive, utopian space that offers freedoms beyond those of daily reality but also captures dystopian aspects within this “reality” simultaneously. Of the new work, presented for the first time in Tallinn, he states: 

“Blue Salmon is a new video installation delving into the emotional states of the journey of a salmon that has reached sexual maturity. Blue Salmon is a site-specific ceremonial installation piece offering a service to liberate those salmon that cannot return home. It offers new revolutions, settlements and squatting spots to experience and share with the lost in the hopes of discovering a new safe and suitable breeding ground. The Blue Salmon cannot return to their natal streams due to many restrictions. When sexual maturity is reached, the impossible journey home begins. Blue Salmon attempts to help the lost to find solace within the aqua. Blue Salmon came to this planet after the Colonization Apocalypse occurred and the Western World entered an event horizon, which in turn created an expanse of new territory to be reclaimed and celebrated. 

Blue Salmon exists to commemorate all of the Unknowns who have never made it back through countless barriers, who lacked a leader to guide them through their struggles. As the borders thicken and the structures and frameworks become more rigid, few can survive. Even fewer have the ability to tell their own story, as many are under constant duress and demonization from the Other and the Self. Many of these Unknowns die before they can develop so much as a romantic story arc or proper characterization. Offering new cycles and revolutions, Blue Salmon creates diasporic homes for diasporic struggles. The state of being lost pervades through the anxiousness and paranoia of the individual who does not belong.” 

Juntae TeeJay Hwang was born in 1991 in Seoul, South Korea and currently lives in New York City. In 2015, he received a BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art in London. His emerging career includes the exhibitions Bloomberg New Contemporaries at ICA in London; Performance day at Camden Art Centre in London; Fault lines at ICA in Singapore; In Response to Unorthodox at the Jewish Museum in New York City; the MFA Exhibition at the Wallach Gallery in New York City; Carnage Visors at RUA RED, South Dublin Arts Centre in Ireland; and Theatrescope at the Kyoto University of the Arts in Japan. 

Founded in 1981, Art in General is a nonprofit organization that assists artists with the production and presentation of new work. It changes in response to the needs of artists and informs and engages the public about their work. Art in General currently supports the production of new work by local and international artists through its New Commissions Program and its International Collaborations program with numerous arts organizations around the world. It also produces an annual symposium titled What Now? on critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice. 

General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. The New Commissions Program is made possible by the Trust for Mutual Understanding; National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; Ruth Ivor Foundation; The Greenwich Collection; and the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation. Support has also been provided by: Commissioners’ Circle leader Elaine Goldman, Jeffery Larsen and Joseph Bolduc; Commissioners’ Circle supporters Richard Massey, and David Solo; and Commissioners’ Circle members Nader Ansary, Rob Colangelo, Don Erenberg, Taymour Grahne, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, Mary Lapides, Leslie Ruff, and Diana Wege. 


Trust for Mutual Understanding, New York, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, New York, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Kadarbiku Köögivili Juicers, Proplastik OÜ, Restaurant Gotsu, Multi-Projekt Sisustuse OÜ, Avision.

We thank Narrot OÜ and DATEL AS .

Juntae TeeJay Hwang Blue Salmon (video still), 2016 Mixed media installation Courtesy the artist
David Kennedy Cutler Second Self, 2015-2016 Inkjet on PETG and fabric, velcro, zipper, rubber Courtesy the artist