Never Been to Huston

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Exhibit Description

Curated by Aurora Picture Show and Jon Rubin

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, the nightly news, magazines, movies, and the Internet. Using these secondhand clues as firsthand research material, invited worldwide contributors-who have Never Been to Houston- 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 somewhere 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 the New York Times opines “refuses to assume a simply identity.”

 

Courtesy Car

Developing on form the first performative set of works, in which Charlton appears as a courtesy car driver offering free rides to the city for anyone who has ever been to Houston, the artist transposed the coordinates from mapquest.com for the Top Ten attraction in Houston as identified by http://www.10best.com/. Appearing at each location wearing ray-bans and Stetson, Charlton identifies each Auckland location as it Houston parent site sometimes paradoxically and other times with total credibility. He point to the genericism of the tourist experience by suggesting that we can simply replace one location for another in an act of random transposition.

In the Courtesy Car, Charlton again inverts assumed relationships. While the traveler to New Zealand becomes the expert from who local knowledge is gleaned the artist also becomes the submissive passenger akin to the trusting passenger who arrives in a foreign land. As a final act of invert-ion and humility Charlton offers this ride for free and declares his ignorance and dependance on the public participant.

View the ful project online at.

http://picasaweb.google.com/NBTHouston/NeverBeenToHouston

 

Other links.

http://www.aut.ac.nz/staff/insideaut/2007_april/houston.htm

http://www.aurorapictureshow.org/calendar.asp?show=140

 

 

Participants:

Roger Ballen, South Africa

James Charlton, Aukland, New Zealand

Takayuki Yamamoto, Nagoya, Japan

Eiji Watanabe, Nagoya, Japan

John Marriot, Toronto, Canada

Peter Edmunds,Canberra, Australia

Lindsay Perth, Edinburgh, Scotland

Elia Pekica, Zagreb, Kroatia

Marko Pekica, Zagreb, Kroatia

Jon Rubin, Pittsburgh, USA

Francesco Nonino, Bologna, Italy

Rafael Barriga, Quito, Ecuador

Blue Rihn Productions (Jan Van Woensel & Vanessa Albury), NY, USA

Elena Perlino, Saluzzo, Italy

Ana Rodriguez, Quito, Ecuador

Stetti Salem, Germany

Sean McFarland, SF, USA

Amirali Ghasemi, Tehran, Iran

Hiedi Hove Pederson, Copenhagen, Denmark

Kurt Kiefer, Seattle, USA

James Charlton – Creative Practice