A_H Arts is a mutli-channel arts platform founded by Alixandra Hornyan. It aims to support emerging artists by presenting curated two-person shows in pop-up exhibition spaces, online, and in non-traditional outlets. A_H Arts builds on Seth Siegelaub’s 1969 model of a dematerialized space, and envisions space not just in physical terms but as a flexible ideology. This initiative enables artists to address the social and cultural issues of our time to realize their ideas without limitations. In her approach, Alixandra Hornyan is questioning and pushing the boundaries of what an exhibition is about and identifies innovative and creative ways to engage the audience.
In this post, Alixandra Hornyan talks to us about A_H Arts, her curatorial approach, and Topographies, a show that she is curating, currently on view at VICTORI + MO Gallery.
On Her Motivation to Start A_H Arts
I have been working at galleries for a long time and I am currently working at a secondary market gallery. Although, I am really interested in the art market I was missing a connection to the artists. I wanted to support living artists and younger artists. I also realized I had this great network of artists and could get involved to support them. A_H Arts is a curatorial initiative focused on the work of innovative emerging artists. It is modeled after a gallery, even though we don't have a physical space. It is important for me to really look at what the world of a gallery is. It is, of course, about hosting shows in a physical space, but it is also about meeting with artists, promoting their work, and supporting projects that aren't necessarily commercial. For example, projects that could live online or performances. My goal is to bring people together and to create context and conversation around work that I love. A_H Arts gives me the flexibility to pursue collaborations as they come up.
On A_H Arts: “My Gallery is the World”
This is a quote I came across in graduate school. I was trained as a printmaker and in graduate school, I was doing a lot of research on how the market influenced printmaking. So, I came across this quote from Seth Siegelaub, who was a dealer for a very short time, about three years, in the late '60s. He took a look at what was happening around him, the artists he liked and the work they were making, which was all conceptual art at that time. And he said, "You know, they are not making work that is meant to hang on a wall, they are making work that is meant to live on a page. So, I am going to change what an exhibition looks like for them and do a Xerox book." He couldn't afford Xerox, but he used another form of copying and gave each artist a page instead of a wall, and treated that entire book as an exhibition. He curated and promoted the pages in the same way he would have done it as a curator and organizer. In that sense, I think, he really pushed the idea of an exhibition, while keeping artists at the forefront.
The quote was always on my mind. I loved the way he appropriated a familiar model in such a new context. It was so relevant for the work that was being made at the time. It supported the work and was universal. For me, it is important to look at models throughout art history and think how they can be relevant to the work being made today. Because we could take some of those structures or approaches to a digital space or to a physical space in a digital realm today.
On Curating Two-Person Shows
I think that two-person shows give the opportunity to have a longer and more elaborate conversation. As a curator, there are themes of work that I am drawn to and I feel that by bringing in two artists, who are dealing with similar issues in different ways, enhances the conversation. My goal is to facilitate the dialogue between artists and I think a two-person show does that. A group show can of course also create a dialogue among artists and artworks, but I think that group shows are often so curatorially driven that a single point of view becomes dominant. There is usually only one or two works by each artist that are facilitating the curatorial objective. I think by giving each artist more space and more room for dialogue we can have a more cohesive conversation. So a two-person show is a truly rewarding experience for the artists, the audience, and the curator.
On Her Current Show: “Topographies” at VICTORI + MO Gallery
Topographies comprises of ceramic sculptures by Jemila MacEwan and paintings by Karin Waskieicz. Both artists are deeply concerned with the natural world and address issues of transformation and displacement. They have a particular engagement with how we navigate a shifting landscape, with nature’s ability to move from one state to another, always in flux. With the reverberations of geological structures found in nature, their transformative properties, and the landscapes they have created, each artist has developed an individual topographical language, in dialogue and on view in Topographies. The works work well together in terms of the ways they relate to the space, the way materials are manipulated, and the way they embrace spontaneity. The works also fit with VICTORI + MO’s program, which I love. Both Ed Victori and Celine Mo at VICTORI + MO have been very supportive and great to work with.
On the Events Organized Around “Topographies”
I thought about the events from the very beginning. I believe they are an important part of the way I would like to present an exhibition. Again, my goal is to create a dialogue. So, I have to think of audience development, and most Saturdays throughout the duration of the show we are hosting events.
The first event was Pathx, a pop-up dance performance choreographed by Katherine Maxwell | HIVEHILD. Pathx, much like Topographies, paralleled the visual and abstract characteristics of contoured lines found on a topographical map. The relationship between the dancers, Zachary Richardson and Koliane Rochon, demonstrated how unique bonds transcend layers of superficiality in order to rely on a timeless connection. There is such a history of artists working with choreographers. Rauschenberg for example, was constantly collaborating with Merce Cunningham. They were part of an interdisciplinary community and supported each other.
In the second event, our partner was the NYU Alumni Association. I went to NYU for my Master’s degree and I am the President of the Alumni Council for the Visual Arts Administration Master’s program. Also, both gallerists are NYU alums as well. So it was great to give the opportunity to the NYU community to see the show and interact with the artists in their studios. I wanted the audience to have the opportunity to understand the artists’ process and meet the artists in their studios in Bushwick to discuss the work. For this event, visitors came to the gallery to see the show, then visited the artists in their studios, and then we had another reception to create that rounded experience.
For our last large-scale event, we also have the closing reception on Sunday, August 20th. The Haiku Guys + Gals will be onsite creating personal and exhibition related poems, giving us another opportunity to collaborate across disciplines.
I just want to say how fortunate I am to have so many amazing people who have come together to support this project. I was really touched by the community that exists here in New York, a community that is so supportive of non-traditional projects. You read about these things that have happened throughout art history about people who have worked together, but to experience that and to know that you are part of it, I think it is really special.
Topographies: Jemila Macewan and Karin Waskiewicz, curated by Alixandra Hornyan on view through August 20, 2017, at VICTORI + MO Gallery, 56 Bogart St., Brooklyn, NY 11206 (L train | Morgan stop). Thursday - Sunday, 1 - 6 pm and by appointment.
August 20, 2017: Closing Reception - 4-6 pm. The Haiku Guys + Gals will be onsite creating personal and exhibition related poems.
The transcribed text has been edited for length and clarity.
Lilia Ziamou is a visual artist. www.lilia-artspace.com