Announcement of 2011 Makers Muse Recipients

Sep 15, 2011

In its third year, the Makers Muse program continues to honor artists working in all mediums and forms: traditional and experimental, classic and contemporary. The award supports artists and their work in the various stages of process.

With diverse articulations, including whimsical stop motion animation, prolific photography, sculptures of macabre fairies, grotesquely innovative video games, intuitive Arabic street art, post apocalyptic installations of grit and humor, and the creative preservation of immigrant music – this year’s recipients do nothing short of impress and motivate.

From all over the world and a wide array of disciplines it our pleasure to announce the recipients of this years Makers Muse award.

Blu is a street artist from Bologna, Italy whose works cover walls worldwide. His giant cartoon style images, ranging from twisted to surreal, explore the absurdity of the human form and human nature. He expresses that his images say more than he can with words, and though he is not a self-proclaimed activist, he exudes a strong political voice in his work. Originally working in aerosol, but now using mostly black and white water based paints, rollers and brushes, this purposeful limitation accentuates the affect of line and form and emphasizes the drawings themselves.  Using these mediums to make epic images in public spaces, he incorporates stop motion cinematography to create morphing animations from the farthest stretches of the imagination. Though his identity remains anonymous and many of his works take shape on humble urban streets, he has accepted large commissions such as painting an exterior wall of the Tate Modern in London as part of a collaboration with 5 other international street artists.

Tessa Farmer was born in 1978 in Birmingham and lives and works in London. She received a BFA and MFA from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University. In 2007 she was an artist in residence at The Natural History Museum, London. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Nymphidia’ at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art’, London and ‘ISAM: Control Over Nature’ a collaboration with DJ and producer Amon Tobin at the Crypt Gallery, London. Recent group exhibitions include ‘House of Beasts’ at Attingham Park (National Trust), Shrewsbury, ‘Monanism’ at MONA, Tasmania, ‘Newspeak: British Art Now’, at The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, The Saatchi Gallery, London and currently at The Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Since the late 1990′s she has been obsessed with the discovery and existence of a species of malevolent insect sized skeleton fairies.  She is represented by Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, London and Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York.

Geraldine Juárez (México, 1977) is a pupil of the internet, her friends and Eyebeam, where she was Senior Fellow at the Production Lab (2003, 2006–2008). She works on the internet and in the street through a wide range of media and outputs to understand the spaces that emerge when information, property and power collide, with a special interest in low, open and pirate technologies. She is a collaborator in decentralized hacking groups focused on open-source and infrastructure like Telecomix, Free Art and Technology Lab (FAT) and Forays. She conducts research and blogs about the tension between intellectual property law and the culture of copy, and their societal effects on governance and democracy in Mexico and beyond. She has been resident artist at inCUBATE in Chicago, Timelab in Belgium and JA.Ca in Brazil (2010). Her work has been shown internationally at collective exhibitions such as Interference, Feedback and Other Options in Eyebeam (NYC), Creative Times’s Democracy in America (NYC), Secret Project Robot (NYC), State of the Art: New York at URBIS Manchester (UK), Actions: What you can do with the city at Centre for Canadian Architecture (CA), G.R.L.| F.A.T. World Summit at CREAM (Japan) Los Impolíticos at Pan Pallazo delle Arti in Napoli (Italy), DEEP NORTH at Transmediale (Berlin) and festivals such Piksel, Futuresonic, Pixelache, Conflux and Transitio.

eL Seed grew up engulfed in the first wave of hip hop culture in Paris, France. Born of Tunisian parents, from an early age eL Seed fostered strong ties to his motherland. As a young artist, his medium often changed: drawing portraits, calligraphies, and cartoon storyboards, painting on shoes, baseball caps, and t-shirts, and eventually spraying colors on his neighborhood walls. Graffiti lingered as a dormant passion until eL Seed moved to North America: the birthplace of modern Graffiti. It was in this environment that eL Seed’s interests in calligraphy and graffiti collided and fused together. Developing on the proverbial tradition lived by the first Arabic calligraphers, eL Seed chooses to paint a message rather than his name. He understands his identity as being unintentionally politicized and uses this to confront common stereotypes. Breaking the false dichotomy between ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’ is one such effort. Through the use of graffiti styles and techniques, eL Seed’s calligraphic compositions bring to life what is otherwise perceived in the globalized mainstream as an ‘old’ or ‘dead’ civilization.

Ian Nagoski is a musicologist and musician concerned with the origins and temporal boundaries of music. He has produced several albums and installations of slow, densely layered electronic music and performed
 widely. In 2007 Ian released Black Mirror, a collection of gripping music recorded between 1918 and 1954 originating in more than 20 countries. Lauded by publications as diverse as the academic journal
 Ethnomusicology and the taste-making website Pitchfork, it was described by the Baltimore’s City as “enigmatic, transfixing, haunting, pretty, and just plain odd,” and the Kronos Quartet included a piece from it in their repertoire.

Nagoski followed Black Mirror with a series of releases on his own Canary Records imprint (manufactured and distributed by Mississippi Records of Portland, OR), including an LP of the brilliant 1920′s Greek singer Marika Papagika, which LA Times Music Editor Randall Roberts has called “awe-inspiring.” Most recently, Canary has released an in-depth survey of the life and work of the great Indian singer Abdul Karim 
Khan. A 3CD set depicting the lives and work of Middle Eastern musicians (and their audiences) in and around New York City in the first decades of the 20th century, “To What Strange Place: The Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-29”, was released this year on the Tompkins Square label. All Music gave it 4 1/2 stars, and in The Wire Marcus Boon described Nagoski as “like [Harry] Smith, a Walter Benjamin visionary, using his collection of 78s to hallucinate a history that actually happened but which remains hidden beneath official dogma and nationalisms.” Nagoski is also a writer, who has contributed research on under-sung musicians and music to dozens of magazines and blogs. He lectures and teaches widely, moving between galleries, bars, coffee houses, sound-art festivals, radio and academic institutions. Jason Cherkis’ article on Nagoski’s life and work for the Washington Post was selected for DaCapo’s Best Music Writing 2011, edited by Alex Ross.

Simon Norfolk is a landscape photographer whose work over the last ten years has been themed around a probing and stretching of the meaning of the word ʻbattlefieldʼ in all its forms. As such, he has photographed in some of the world’s worst war zones and refugee crises, but is equally at home photographing supercomputers used to design military systems or test launches of nuclear missiles.

His work has been widely recognized: he has won Le Prix Dialogue at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2005; The Infinity Prize from The International Center of Photography in 2004; the Foreign Press Club of America Award in 2003: and he was winner of the European Publishing Award, 2002. In 2003 he was shortlisted for the Citibank Prize now known as the Deutsche Böurse Prize. He has produced three monographs of his work including ‘Afghanistan:chronotopia’ (2002) which was published in 5 languages; ‘For Most Of It I Have No Words’ (1998) about the landscapes of genocide and ‘Bleed’ (2005) about the war in Bosnia. He has work held in major collections such as The Museum of Fine Art, Houston and Deutsche Böurse Art Collection in Frankfurt and the collection of the British Council. In 2011 he published ‘Burke + Norfolk;’ a re-discovery and re-photography of the photographer John Burke’s pictures from Afghanistan in the 1880s. It was shown at Tate Modern in London making him one of the few photographers to ever be given a solo show there. He has been described by one critic as ‘the leading documentary photographer of our time. Passionate, intelligent and political; there is no one working in photography that has his vision or his clarity.

Paolo Pedercini is an Italian game developer, artist and educator. He currently teaches digital media production and experimental game design at the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. His artistic practice deals with the relationship between electronic entertainment and ideology.  He often works under the project name “molleindustria” producing video games addressing various social issues such as environmentalism, food politics, religious fundamentalism, labor and gender. His work is enjoyed by millions of non-art oriented people over the net and has been exhibited in proper and improper venues from all over Europe and the US.