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Artists explore masculinity, survival in Columbus art exhibit

January 5, 2014

seamon.17@osu.edu
A print of a piece of wearable art by Greg Ponchak. He is set to exhibit alongside Kyle Franklin throughout January at ROY G BIV Gallery.  Credit: Courtesy of Greg Ponchak.

A print of a piece of wearable art by Greg Ponchak. He is set to exhibit alongside Kyle Franklin throughout January at ROY G BIV Gallery. Credit: Courtesy of Greg Ponchak.

Although no intended parallel exists between Kyle Franklin’s and Greg Ponchak’s work, the two artists are set to express personal ideologies and break norms under the same roof throughout January.

After the exhibition’s opening Saturday, ROY G BIV Gallery is set to house Franklin’s and Ponchak’s individual exhibits this month. Both hailing from the Columbus College of Art and Design, the artists are slated to show their interdisciplinary artwork challenging traditional societal ideas side by side.

In using what he describes as a mix of traditional and non-traditional materials, including glitter and towels, as his chosen medium, Franklin said he questions the meaning of the word “traditional” itself in tackling the classical connotations of masculinity in his exhibit.

“People throw around that term,” Franklin said. “Like in this day, what is that? Everything is sort of contemporary enough where traditional isn’t really anything.”

Franklin said his work is about blurring the line dividing the conventional notions of what is means to be a man with his own thoughts on masculinity.

He attributes his inspiration to his own childhood growing up in a small town in Illinois.

“When I was younger, I used to take dance classes, but I also raced motocross at the same time,” Franklin said. “There was this weird moment when, (there was) a line between, ‘Was I considered feminine, was I considered masculine?’ And so this (show) is just saying that I think it’s all kind of the same thing and … femininity is a part of masculinity and vice versa.”

This “line” in Franklin’s exhibit is often displayed in the literal sense, whether through a physical drawing of one or represented through the shape of objects used to construct a sculpture.

One of Franklin’s sculptures features a piece of wood based on marble, leaning against the wall with a towel pinned between the wall and the end of the plank.

“Greek bathhouses were a place where men used to congregate, and it used to be the very typical view of masculinity and the very typical hero,” Franklin said. “So the more that I went about high school culture, like sports culture, (I thought) about the shower room as being the kind of contemporary version of the Greek bathhouse.”

The showing of Ponchak’s exhibit alongside Franklin’s had Ponchak thinking largely about similarities between their shows, he said. He finds their similarities in the nature of the artists’ chosen mediums.

“Most of the pieces that I’ve made for the show, I guess I’ve been working at the sewing machine, I don’t know, gardening, and maybe in some way, the things that are traditionally associated with female gender roles,” Ponchak said.

Same to Franklin’s use of sculpture in his exhibit, Ponchak’s exhibit uses this as well. Additionally, Ponchak uses digital art and photography to build upon his theme of survival within the context of capitalism. He said his inspiration is drawn from reading the works of Italian Marxist author Franco Berardi as well as stories he has recently seen on the news.

“There’s obviously the physiological survival that happens in nature,” Ponchak said. “I mean, there’s this set of primary conditions that need to be met, like food and shelter, but it gets more complex in that our existence is virtual.”

Ponchak’s exhibit includes a variety of common objects accented by his own take, including planter boxes with live vegetation and sculptural pieces that look similar to coffee tables, he said. Ponchak also created “functional objects which were photographed and processed digitally then displayed as print objects,” he said in an email, including a scarf designed to free the eyes but cover the rest of the face.

These items of survival are based largely on Ponchak’s own current state of survival.

“My current situation, the one that I find myself in, is one of sort of economic austerity, and all the objects I’ve made for the show kind of develop out of a necessity,” Ponchak said. “I could buy a pair of pants for $40 or I could make one for $10 and there’s sort of the distance that’s removed in that I’m making the object.”

ROY G BIV Gallery is located at 997 N. High St. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday, 3-6 p.m. and Saturday, 1-5 p.m.

An earlier version of this story stated Ponchak created wearable items for his exhibit. In fact, Ponchak “created functional objects which were photographed and processed digitally then displayed as print objects,” he said in an email. 


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  1. Greg Ponchak says:

    As one of the artists written about in this article/”interview,” I have to say that I have serious issues with the way it is written. I have already requested changes be made, but unfortunately, this version of the article has gone to print. That said:

    “He finds their similarities in the nature of the artists’ chosen mediums.”

    This isn’t something that I said. Towards the end of the interview I was asked if I saw any similarities between my work and Kyle’s. I said that his work confronts gender-norms and that “Most of the pieces that I’ve made for the show, I guess I’ve been working at the sewing machine, I don’t know, gardening, and maybe in some way, the things that are traditionally associated with female gender roles.” This isn’t central to the work or something that I set out to address in my work, it is simply an obtuse similarity that I see between the body of work I created for this show and the work Kyle creates. It is nothing more than that. The article is titled “Artists explore masculinity,” and that isn’t at all what my work is about.

    “context of capitalism”

    I didn’t say this. The work embodies anti-capitalist tendencies, but I’m honestly not entirely even sure what that means.

    “He said his inspiration is drawn from reading the works of Italian Marxist author Franco Berardi as well as stories he has recently seen on the news.”

    This list is severely abridged, and I’m not entirely sure why Franco Berardi was singled out. Tiqqun, Claire Fontaine, Metahaven, The Imaginary Party, DSG, The Invisible Committee, Jean Baudrillard, Paul Virilio, the Situationist International are among other influences.

    “There’s obviously the physiological survival that happens in nature,” Ponchak said. “I mean, there’s this set of primary conditions that need to be met, like food and shelter, but it gets more complex in that our existence is virtual.”

    This quote is taken so far out of context that its meaning is completely lost. It could be (sort of) fixed as such: “There’s obviously the physiological survival,” Ponchak said. “there’s this set of primary conditions that need to be met, like food and shelter, but it gets more complex in that our existence is split; there is “actual” existence (for lack of a better term), but there is also a virtual component.”

    “Ponchak also created wearable items for the exhibit”

    I actually didn’t. I created functional objects which were photographed and processed digitally then displayed as print objects.

    I have issues with other pieces of the article as well, but these are the major ones. The work I created is not about masculinity, rather it is about survival in a contemporary context, or how it is possible to live within the domination of ideological constructs.

  2. Greg Ponchak says:

    but I’m honestly not entirely even sure what “context of capitalism” means.*

  3. Greg Ponchak says:

    It’s becoming clear that the extensive misrepresentation of my work, what I said about my work, and what my work is saying is not going to be fixed, so I will attempt to clarify each of these issues below. The quotes attributed to me are all skewed in various ways, and thus take on an entirely new/incorrect/inaccurate meaning.

    My work is not about masculinity or gender-normativity. To understand the quote mentioned in the article above, it must be understood in context. Towards the end of the interview, I was asked if I saw any similarities between my work and Kyle’s. I said absolutely nothing about our choice of medium. At the moment of the interview, I still had not seen any of the work Kyle created for the show. What I said is that my work was created through sewing, crocheting, gardening, and that these things are generally associated with feminine-gender roles (at least within the context of Western culture). The “quote” inaccurately implies that this is a comprehensive list of what qualifies as feminine.

    “Ponchak’s exhibit uses this as well. Additionally, Ponchak uses digital art and photography to build upon his theme of survival within the context of capitalism.”

    I don’t do this. The work I created for the show addresses the similarities between the theorized “state of nature” and the conditions which exist in globalized semio-captialism, or late-capitalism, or Empire, or w/e, and does so through the lens of survival. There is another component to the work that may have added to the confusion (this appears later in the “interview”). I tried to contextualize the work by illustrating that survival takes place on multiple, inseparable planes (actual and virtual).

    “He said his inspiration is drawn from reading the works of Italian Marxist author Franco Berardi as well as stories he has recently seen on the news.”

    Franco Berardi was certainly an influence, but other influences were left out. I’ve mentioned some in comments preceding this one.

    “There’s obviously the physiological survival that happens in nature,” Ponchak said. “I mean, there’s this set of primary conditions that need to be met, like food and shelter, but it gets more complex in that our existence is virtual.”

    This quote is confusing because of the way it is framed, distorted, and taken out of its original context. The nature that’s being talked about is the “state of nature.” The reason for the explanation of “physiological” was to clarify my point to the interviewer, who was constantly misunderstanding what I was saying during the interview (perhaps this is my fault…idk). The last piece of the quote is actually a segue into another thought (which I mentioned earlier in this comment). However, in the quote, it is left without the following statements…which makes no sense.

    I’m posting this simply to clarify

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