Curated by Aurora Picture Show and Jon Rubin Never Been to Houston

March 9, 2007 – April 14, 2007

Curator Statement

“Imagine a city that you’ve only seen in reproductions or perhaps have merely heard about. A place, like many others, that exists only through rumors, stories, novels, thenightly news, magazines, movies and the Internet. Using these secondhand clues as firsthand research material, invited worldwide contributors-who haveNever Been toHouston-will photographically document (without leaving home) what they imagine Houston to look like. Contributors will upload their photos daily to an on-line Flickr site, which will be projected as a slideshow in Houston’s Lawndale gallery. Anything that anyone might take a photograph of is fair game. Just as long as it feels like Houston.

For the contributors to this exhibition, the task is to search through their daily life for clues to a foreign place, for the possibility that some where else exists right under their nose and that, like some clunky form of astral projection, you can travel to other lands without leaving home. For viewers in Houston, it’s a chance to witness an unusual mirroring of their globally projected image. In addition to the traditions of storytelling and travel guides, new information technologies are expanding the possibility of knowing a place to which you’ve never traveled. Three-dimensional electronic maps, 360 degree images, hosts of amateur and commercial websites and podcasts about a given city, its economy, demographics, culture and subculture have opened the way for a new vernacular of representation.?In the end,Never Been to Houston is an experimental, virtual travelogue to the city that theNew York Times opines “refuses to assume a simply identity.”

Never Been to Houston Contributors (at time of publication)

Roger Ballen (Johannesburg, South Africa) was born in New York in 1950. Since 1982, he has been living and taking photographs in South Africa. His work is represented in many museums including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Maison Europeene de la Photographie in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ballen’s bookOutland (Phaidon Press) received the Best Photography Book of the Year Award atPhoto Espana 2001. In 2002, he won the Photographer of the Year Award at the inaugural Rencontres d’Arle Awards.

Blue Rihn Productions: Jan Van Woensel (New York, NY USA), originally from Antwerp,Belgium, is a Senior Studio Professor at New York University dept of Art and ArtProfessions, an independent curator, and art critic based in New York. He is also the founding director of ICP/A ‘International Curators Program / Antwerp’. He is currently working on several exhibitions for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp,Belgium; MOMA Shanghai, China; MU in Eindhoven, The Netherlands; and Art InGeneral, New York, USA.

Blue Rihn Productions: Vanessa Albury (New York, NY USA), a native of Nashville, TN, currently lives and works in New York. Albury’s artworks have been exhibited in galleries throughout the southeast and abroad, including two solo exhibitions at the CharlestonCity Gallery and Nan Boynton Gallery in Charleston, SC and Tallahassee, FL, respectively. Her works have also been included in multiple group shows and screenings. She is currently working on a solo exhibition for J. Silverman Gallery in SanFrancisco, CA.

James Charlton (Auckland, New Zealand) immigrated to New Zealand from the UK in1973. Charlton gained his BFA from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1982. As a Fulbright recipient he completed his MFA at the State University of New York at Albany in 1986.Remaining in the United States for a further four years, he exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions throughout the USA, and was represented by Akin Gallery inBoston and John Gibson Gallery in New York. Charlton has lectured at the ASA School of Art and is currently Senior Lecturer in Sculpture and Interactive Media at Auckland University of Technology.

Peter Edmunds (Canberra, Australia) is a web designer and developer and a founding partner of the multimedia studio Oxide Interactive. He graduated with first class honors from the University of Canberra, and still resides in Canberra, Australia. He has been fascinated to see the growth of the internet and its implications for art, communication…and everything.

Amirali Ghasemi (Tehran, Iran) was born in Tehran in 1980. In 1998, Ghasemi established Parkin gallery; an independent arts space in Tehran, and in 2002,, a virtual gallery, which has become an online platform for many young Iranian artists. He has shown his videos/design works in Sweden, Netherlands,France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, South Korea, China,Taiwan and Japan. In addition, he has directed many audiovisual projects with Iranian  rock bands, He graduated in 2004 with a BA in graphic design from Central Tehran AzadUniversity., with research and emphasis on digital art history.

John Marriott (Toronto, Canada) is a multidisciplinary artist and writer based in Toronto,Canada. His performances, interventions, videos, installations, sculptures and images have been featured in exhibitions and festivals internationally in venues such as TheZKM (Karlsruhe, 2004), The Impakt Festival (Utrecht, 2003), 25HRS (Barcelona, 2003),The Rotterdam International Festival of Film and Video (Rotterdam, 2003), and ThePower Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto 1995, 1996).

Sean McFarland (San Francisco, CA, USA) was born in Thousand Oaks, CAin 1976.He has had solo exhibitions at Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco, and White Columns in New York City. His photographs and videos have also been included in shows at theSan Jose Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, and Art WalkAmsterdam. He is a recipient of the 2005 Phelan Art Award in photography and a 2004fellowship recipient from the National Photography Institute at Columbia University, NY.His work has been written about in Artforum, Artweek, and Flash Art.

Francesco Nonino (Bologna, Italy) was born in 1960 in Bologna. Nonino received a scientific education in medicine, and is a self-taught photographer. His work deals with the expressive and evocative potential of places, objects and nature, often combining elements that recall scientific research (symmetry, taxonomic order, sequential seriality, etc.). Among his recent projects isAtmospheres(a book published by Damiani and distributed by DAP in the US). In Never Been To Houston he is concerned with the possibility offered by real-time webcams of enhancing and at the same time undoing the concept of time and space.

Elia Patricia Pekica Pagon (Zagreb, Croatia) is a Professor of English, Italian and literature who graduated from the Faculty of Arts in Zagreb, Croatia. Pekica is the chief editor of the Croatian cultural magazine Epohaand a writer who has published three books of poetry. She is now working on her new book about globalization titled Carrying Diogen’s Lantern which she plans to issue on both Croatian andEnglish. Globalization is the main field of her scientific interest and being part of global projects such as the exhibition Never Been to Houston is therefore especially exciting to her.

Marko Pekica (Zagreb, Croatia) was born in 1943, and is a Communicologist. Pekica is a professor, journalist, educator, copywriter, film director (over 150 commercials and video reports and over 300 directed radio messages) and art photographer. He is the author of marketing campaigns for companies such as Jupi, Meinl, Schweppes, Martini, Cezar, Nara, Fax Helizim, Coca-Cola, Polo, Marlboro, Bond Street, and L&M.

Elena Perlino (Genoa, Italy) was born in Italy in 1972. After completing her degree inHistory and Cinema at the University Turin she started her work as a freelance photographer. Her editorial clients include international magazines such asMax, D di Repubblica, Specchio, Io Donna, Anna, Corriere dell`Arte, and Rockstar. She was a finalist of Photo Espana 2005, Descubrimientos, awarded with the Septembre de la Photographie 2006 grant in Lyon, France. In 2006 her work on Italian prostitution was exhibited in Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie Voies Off, Arles, France.

Lindsay Perth (Dundee, Scotland) has been working as a digital artist with arts organisations in Scotland for three years in the form of residencies, tutor and workshop co-ordination. Commissioners have included New Media Scotland, Street Level, Stills, and Project Ability. She is one of the founding members of artists’ group Elevator and continues to explore the creative uses of new technologies.

Ana Rodriguez (Quito, Ecuador) was born in 1976. She is an artist and curator who studied Visual Arts and Esthetic Philosophy at Université de Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne.Rodriguez has an MA in Cultural Studies from Universidad Andina. She is a Professor ofArt Theory at the graduate program at Universidad Central del Ecuador. She is presently curating “Primera y Segunda Vuelta,” an experimental project about politics and art process.

Eiji Watanabe (Nagoya, Japan) was born in Aichi, Japan in 1961. His group exhibitions include “”All About Laughter: Humor in Contemporary Art” at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo(2007); “Field Studies”Essor Gallery, London (2002); and “Encounter” Tokyo OperaCity Art Gallery, Tokyo (2001).

Takayuki Yamamoto (Nagoya, Japan) received a MA from both Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and Graduate School of Aichi University of Education. His work has been shown in museums and galleries nationally and internationally. Yamamoto’s work was selected for Sharjah International Biennial 6, Sharjah, U.A.E. He showed most recently at the critically acclaimed group show, “Very very Human” at Toyota CityMuseum in Aichi.

Curator Bios

Andrea Grover is the founder of Aurora Picture Show, a cinema housed in a former church. She attended School of the Art Institute, Chicago, & was a Core Fellow at MFAH. In 2006, Grover co-curated a “Floating Cinema” with Diane Shamash of Minetta Brook, for BBP (attendance 10,000).Grover recently curated “Phantom Captain: Art & Crowdsourcing” for apex art, & received accolades in Frieze&New York Times. She was a participating curator for e-Flux Video Rental, & works forCreative Capital.

Jon Rubin is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores the social dynamics of public spaces &the lives of ordinary individuals. His projects include creating a game show for ideas, running a gallery that only presents exhibitions on neighborhood residents, making a punk b& play the same song, repeatedly, for 5 hours, producing a cable access variety show at a senior center, & most recently developing his own nomadic autonomous art school.