The Alex Brown Foundation and Residency is pleased to announce the invitation of four individual artists and one artist collaborative to participate in the program, each in residence for three-month periods beginning in January 2024 and leading into 2025. Fatma Belkis (TR), Woohee Cho (KR/US), Mark Joshua Epstein (US), Anjan Modak (IN), and Rodriguez Remor (Denis Rodriguez & Leonardo Remor) (BR), will occupy Brown’s former studio at the nonprofit Mainframe Studios in Des Moines, IA, a refurbished 1970s telecom building located near the city's downtown. In addition to the workspace, the artists will receive lodging, airfare, and a monthly expense allowance.
Fatma Belkıs of İstanbul, Turkey, works with text, video, and printed matter. With an interest in narratives about individuals experiencing personal transformation, her work also problematizes breaches of contract regarding structures built on friendship and comradery. Considering herself a storyteller, Belkis works with the ways intimate relationships, romantic or platonic, alongside public demonstrations and collective political engagements, move people. Currently developing an installation accompanied by a publication on childhood entitled Your Worst Friend, her work delves into the quasi-phenomenological questions: Who do we want to be friends with? How do past experiences (namely from childhood) shape our definition of an intimate relationship? And how do we part ways with each other? During her residency in Des Moines, Belkis will work on her docu-fiction project, Overreaction, exploring manifestations of fear and rage, with the work's plot and ethical problems centered on the trial of a female lawyer who murders a man she feels threatened by. Solo, group, and collaborative exhibitions and screenings include Franconia Sculpture Park, Kunstverein Kunsthaus Potsdam, SALT Galata, Ankara International Film Festival, DEPO İstanbul, Istanbul Biennial, La Tolerie, Museo Reina Sofia, nGbK, Tensta Konsthall, !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival, Sharjah Biennale Off-site, Norwich Radical Film Festival, and Institut für Alles Mögliche. Residencies include Cité des Arts, Can Serrat International Art Residency, Artistes en Résidence Clermont Ferrand, Warehouse 421 Abu Dhabi.
Woohee Cho is a visual artist, experimental filmmaker, and performer from Seoul, South Korea currently living in Los Angeles. His practice involves gathering text and data from his daily surroundings, which he turns into video installations and performances of a diaristic nature. Cho’s current work, 10987YOU654ME32US1, interrogates the ways tech companies announce new products using numbers, giving the illusion of progress and objectivity, while also employing personalized messaging. Continuing his projects mirroring and quoting online communities; in Des Moines Cho intends to explore aspects of queer intimacy while synthesizing select semi-autobiographical, fiction, and nonfiction literature on techno-feminism, dance, shame, and migration, amongst other topics. Solo and group exhibitions include Post Territory Ujeongguk, Seoul; NARS Foundation, Brooklyn; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater; MAK Center for Art and Architecture, LA; New Wight Biennial, UCLA; California Institute of the Arts; Show and Tell, Seoul; Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul; and other venues. Cho's experimental films have been shown in film festivals, including Ann Arbor Film Festival, Brussels Independent Film Festival, OUTFEST Film Festival, Cork International Film Festival, San Diego Underground Film Festival, Sydney World Film Festival, Screening project Dongshi Sangyoung Seoul, and LAST Projects. Fellowships and residencies include Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, NARS Foundation, The REEF Residency, Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art, and The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance.
Mark Joshua Epstein, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S., in recent three-dimensional paintings and works on paper, explores queer ornament and graphic excess through the lens of cultural inheritance. Purposely eschewing a straightforward correspondence to definitive forms, he is committed to probing the inherent complexity of visibility politics through abstraction. Investigating the history of Jewish immigration to Iowa dating back to the mid-19th century, Epstein will develop work drawing on influences of Eastern European Jewish design motifs adorning local architecture and shown in photographic documentation of buildings in the region. Epstein has had recent solo exhibitions at Asya Geisberg Gallery, Ortega y Gasset Projects’ The Skirt, and Handwerker Gallery, Ithaca College. Selected group shows include Geary Contemporary, Gaa Gallery, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Arlington Art Center, Des Moines Art Center, Good Children Gallery, and Beverly’s NY. Residency participation includes the British School at Rome, the Fine Arts Work Center Provincetown, and the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation.
Anjan Modak, living and working in Kolkata, India, has for over a decade created images of the lives of urban manual workers, such as migrant construction laborers. Without taking a fixed ideological position, Modak depicts laborers’ lives in a highly metaphorical visual language, expressing their dreams, despairs, and struggles, through the lens of his working-class upbringing. Primarily drawing on paper in large-scale works with a dense linear texture and minimal use of color, Modak’s activation of the material’s white surface enhances the graphic quality of the pieces, in effect foregrounding a blank space occupied by those denied any place in history. Modak’s residency in Des Moines will enable this ongoing project to develop within a new context. Anjan Modak has held solo exhibitions at Emami Art Kolkata and the India Art Fair. Group exhibitions include Emami Art Gallery, Habitat Foundation, Time & Space Bangalore, Galleria Matrix, Gallery Art Exposure, Tamarind Art, Aakriti Art Gallery, CIMA Gallery Awards Exhibitions, Abanindranath Tagore Gallery, Rajya Charukala Parshad, and the Mumbai, New Delhi, Jaipur, and India Art Fairs with Emami Art Gallery, Ganges Art Gallery, and Gandhar Art Gallery, among others.
Rodriguez Remor (Denis Rodriguez and Leonardo Remor) are artists, curators, and researchers from Bahia, Brazil. Invested in a critical view of coloniality and immersed in different contexts, territories, and diverse materials, though frequently utilizing clay, they work to expand concepts of sustainability beyond the logic of consumption and productivity, in alliance with alternative modes of living to a world in collapse as a result of the ideas of modernity and progress. In Des Moines, Rodriguez Remor will continue recent work delving into Indigenous North American material culture and ceramic traditions, further informing their projects in collaboration with Guarani communities of Southeastern Brazil. Focused on rural areas, the land, and the transmission of ancestral knowledge, Rodriguez Remor interrogates visible and invisible boundaries, divisions, and binaries where contradictory and complementary forces alternate and merge, such as the separation between nature and culture, contemporary art and folk art, modern architecture and vernacular architecture, technology and para-technology. Their work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions, public projects, and screenings at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Centro Cultural São Paulo, 9th Mercosul Biennale, Fotoativa, KCAI Crossroads Gallery, Fundação Iberê Camargo, Belger Arts Center, Festival de Cinema de Gramado, Casa do Brasil Madrid, OÁ Galeria, and SESC Sorocaba. Rodriguez Remor reside in Igatu, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, where they founded Mirante Xique-Xique, an Art&Ecology research residency concerned with environment, architecture, cuisine, and arts, with a mission to educate and safeguard the region’s architectural and intangible heritage. The duo have been in residence at INLAND Campo Adentro, CRIPTA 747, Art Omi, Bemis Center, McColl Center, and Nomad AIR Oslo, and are among the 2023 nominees for Brazil’s prestigious PIPA Contemporary Art Prize.
The Alex Brown Foundation and Residency's 2024 selection committee comprises artist Nadia Ayari, curator Juana Berrío, and artist and 2022 Alex Brown Foundation resident, Christopher K. Ho. We are grateful for the illuminating intelligence of their dialogue.
Nadia Ayari lives and works in New York City. Her paintings and sculptures have been included in international shows and biennales, including the 12th Cairo International Biennale, the 3rd Thessaloniki Biennale, MoMA PS1’s Greater New York, and publications including Phaidon’s Great Women Painters, as well as group and solo exhibitions at Maraya Art Center, Institut Du Monde Arabe, American University Museum, Abrons Art Center, Nina Johnson Gallery, Monya Rowe Gallery, Taymour Grahne Projects, and Luce Gallery, Turin.
Juana Berrío lives and works in New York City. She has held positions at Amant in Brooklyn, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the New Museum in New York, and co-founded and directed Kiria Koula, a gallery, bookstore, and programming space in San Francisco. As an independent curator and writer, she has organized exhibitions and programs in the United States, Europe, and South America and has contributed essays to publications internationally. She is currently Adjunct Professor in Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts.
Christopher K. Ho is based in New York and Hong Kong. His practice encompasses making, organizing, writing, and teaching. He has exhibited at the Bronx Museum, Bard CCS Hessel Museum, the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Vancouver Art Gallery, Asia Society Hong Kong, UCCA Beijing, the Guangdong Times Museum, the Cranbrook Art Museum, and the RISD Museum, and currently is Executive Director of Asia Art Archive, a Hong Kong-based independent non-profit dedicated to making accessible materials on recent art in Asia.
The Residency was founded in 2020 to honor artist Alex Brown (1966-2019), a Des Moines, Iowa native. Brown established his career as a painter mainly exhibiting with the gallery Feature Inc. in New York City, with solo and group exhibitions beginning in the 1990’s. In 1996 Brown returned to his hometown where he continued developing his work over the course of two decades, primarily in oil, gouache, and ink, and where he also produced several notable works of public art. Centered on his workspace at Mainframe Studios, the aim of the Residency, accepting applications from artists working in all mediums and contexts, is to provide emerging and established artists of exceptional merit with an experience of the working conditions that Alex Brown found in Des Moines — the ability to make the work you want to make, free from the daily influence of being immersed in a major metropolitan scene but without the isolation of a rural residency, in an exceptional studio environment and a relaxed and pleasant living environment.
Known for his prismatic, at times inscrutable adaptations of found images, Alex Brown’s paintings and drawings are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Des Moines Art Center, and Collezione Maramotti, amongst others. During his lifetime Brown also held solo exhibitions at Blondeau Fine Art Services, Geneva; Marc Jancou, New York; Galerie Richard, NY; Triple V, Paris; Gallery Min Min, Tokyo; and Twig Gallery, Brussels. He was a recipient of the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Brown was also known as a guitarist in the influential hardcore bands Side by Side, and Project X, and Gorilla Biscuits, the band he continued touring with until his untimely death from an aneurysm in January 2019.