The story of a gift. 200 1st Avenue (2014-2016): A film by Conrad Ventur — Yvette Greslé

unnamedConrad Ventur, Untitled, 2014-2016 Courtesy ROKEBY, ©2016 the artist. All rights reserved.

I gave her a pink bandana. She carried it with her and when the seat of her bike started to tear, she used it to cover the seat. I guess it’s safe to say that Pink Seat is also the story of a gift. 

Rafael Sánchez1

Pink Seat

Someone has shaken a snowdome. This ordinary gesture, the unsettling of imaginary snowflakes, animates objects and spaces visible through the glass, which is filmed close-up. I see an empty bed. Its slightly rumpled cover signals a living presence. Cut flowers are suspended upside down hung up to dry. Windows, their shapes distorted by the perspective offered through the dome, are sources of intense light. Traffic is audible and so are voices but these are distant and vague. A car hoots. Someone moves inside the apartment. Images fade into each other as others appear. The borders assumed between inside and outside and public and private are rendered ambiguous. The public life of the city folds into the private and intimate life of the apartment. I am invited to a window and through it I can see darkened buildings and the golden, mythical intensity of the sun, rising or setting. The edges of the clouds that move slowly across a pale blue sky are luminous. This exterior world is reflected into the apartment before it fades away. On the wall by the window shadows are cast. A faded pink square of fabric hangs there. It moves slightly in the breeze from the open window. This suspended cloth is an artwork titled Pink Seat.

The film I am describing is 200 1st Avenue (2014-2016) by the New York based artist Conrad Ventur. It was filmed in an apartment on 1st avenue, New York City and is 41 minutes, 15 seconds in length. Ventur was invited to stay there by the artist Rafael Sánchez who had shared it with his late partner Kathleen White.2 Sánchez was grieving the loss of White, also an artist, who had passed away from cancer, in September 2014. Ventur was mourning the death, in September 2013, of his friend and collaborator, the 1960s underground film star Mario Montez. For over a year Ventur participated in the process of archiving White’s work and made the film which was shown in his solo exhibitionPink Seat at ROKEBY gallery in London (14 April – 23 June 2016). The exhibition title was derived from an artwork that White and Sánchez made in 2012. White had used a bandana given to her by Sánchez to cover a worn bicycle seat and this ordinary and personal thing was later transformed by the artists into the wall-based work Pink Seat.

The pink patterned bandana was pinned at each corner onto a simple wooden frame.  In a conversation with Ventur, Sánchez recalls how he and White “played a lot with the idea of ‘unpainting’ as [they] made works together”.3 He refers to marks that occur “not on purpose but real nonetheless, complex and filled with energy”.4 And then he offers up a glimpse of his relationship with White; its humour and intimacy: “Pink Seat was done with her bottom”.5 Folds and creases suggest the bandana’s life as a bicycle seat cover. The pink is darker at the edges but faded at the centre where, tied onto the bicycle seat, it was exposed to sunlight and the wearing effects of time.

The idea of the gift is implicit in the film and the private significance of the artist’s collaborative work Pink Seat. There are things I cannot know about this gift. This is to do with the intimacy that existed between Rafael and Kathleen. Ventur enters a space of memory and mourning after White’s passing, and I imagine his film as a gift from one artist to another.

To continue reading go to minor literature[s]. This article was published there 7 October 2016.

unnamed-4Conrad Ventur, Untitled, 2014-2016 Courtesy ROKEBY, ©2016 the artist. All rights reserved.

Notes

1. From a transcribed conversation between Conrad Ventur and Rafael Sánchez, April 2016, 200 1st Avenue, NYC (courtesy of the artists and ROKEBY Gallery).
2. White moved to New York in 1987.  She studied painting at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her work encompassed painting, sculpture, video and sound. She created sets for the Bolshoi Ballet and prepared costumes and participated with New York City performance legends (including The Lady Bunny, Flloyd and David Dalrymple).
3. From a transcribed conversation between Conrad Ventur and Rafael Sánchez, April 2016, 200 1st Avenue, NYC (courtesy of the artists and ROKEBY gallery).
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.

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