Kenan Juska: Daily Operation
It may be fair to say that Kenan Juska's entire life is some kind of collage. Or if not, he's at least heavily invested in the medium. Take, for reference, this photograph (above) of his workspace, which Juska describes as "an older piece." Then, press play (below) to hear the most recent episode of Chances With Wolves, the independent radio show Juska creates in collaboration with his childhood friend Kray (Justin Cox).
Formerly a weekly staple of East Village Radio, Chances with Wolves has been called things like a "tapestry of eccentric music" and a "six-year-running radio program with quite a following." Their recent 'Gazine, a large-format newsprint group show, comingles artists like Tim Barber and Chris Maggio with work by Juska's wife, Ro Agents, and collages by Juska himself. Clearly, this is an artist who is interested in ways things can be combined, and methods by which snuggling separate elements together can create a new context for the whole.
This Sunday, Kenan Juska will unveil his most extensive physical collage yet at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Titled Daily Operation, the exhibition brings together 526 sequential collages made between March 2005 and November 2008 with other related works. One new collage was made each day during those years, composed of cast-off objects found on the streets on New York. Juska thinks of this work as a precursor to his radio show. “The daily meditation of collecting materials people cast off, and turning them into a sculptural diary, ended as the radio program began," he explains. "With each episode of the radio show, we take overlooked and forgotten songs from different contexts, times, cultures, and styles—‘beautiful failures,’ we think of them as—and do our best to meld them into a seamless experience for our listeners.”
Additionally, Pioneer Works and Juska have collaborated with Lele Saveri of the Newsstand on a large volume containing all the works from Daily Operation. Copies will be available at the opening.
Here are the stories behind ten collages from the exhibition:
5.12.05 Strong Pull
"On this day, I found what appeared to be the contents of an entire purse, dumped out on the ground outside the subway station on Bergen Street, near where I used to live back then. From what I could piece together, the woman whose purse it was had been in recovery; there was an address book with NA meetings, lots of notes to herself, an NA keychain, and a lot more stuff I couldn't fit on the collage. It's hard not to create stories in your mind when you find these things about how they got there. I imagine this woman was doing well, that she was dedicated to her recovery; and then something happened that resulted in her belongings being thrown all over the sidewalk. Some one also pointed out that the word pull tied in with this narrative. I hope she's OK."
5.31.05 The Life and Death of Norman H. Weissman
"This man, Norman H. Weissman, must have passed away. His whole life, or so it seemed, was dumped out in front of a house on Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn. He had a lot of comic books, gun magazines from the 80s, and books about World War II. There are two checks that he wrote here, one to 'Christianity Today,' and one to 'Pub.' Pull the hammer back on that little gun, and it makes an explosion noise (still works)."
7.1.05 Howard Beach Redux
"This one kind of has a nod to the New York I grew up in, in the 80s and 90s. A lot of the pieces in this series have an element of this; but this one in particular reminded me of the racial climate of that time. I think that my experience growing up in Brooklyn was very different than a kid that's a teenager now. I mean people have seen Do the Right Thing, and you have to understand, it really felt like that in a lot of ways. The tension was palpable, and it felt like every couple of months that was a major incident that took over both the streets and the newspapers for a while. I mean the more famous ones like the Central Park Five, the Crown Heights riots, Howard Beach, Tawana Brawley, Michael Stewart, Yusef Hawkins, and so on, and for every one of those, there was a lot of stuff that went down that got no press. But those major incidents that received a lot of coverage and hype were indicative of a lot of peoples attitudes during that time, and also fanned the flames of all the strife in the street. The clipping from the newspaper talks about another incident in Howard Beach, and I remember reading it and feeling a wave of familiar disgust."
8.7.05 One Nation Under Satellites
"I love this one. You really get a glimpse into someone's mind here."
9.4.05 Conditions in the Superdome
"This is a good example of how project can act as a time capsule. This was right after Katrina, when the rest of the country was just starting to understand the severity of the situation down there."
10.5.05 Amazing Adventure
"Here you can read An Amazing Adventure by Max Garey, illustrated by Max Garey."
"When I was a kid, whenever something bad would happen on our block, a mugging, a burglary, someone passed out with a needle in their arm on the steps up the block, my pops would always say, 'Well, that's life in the big city.' It was like we made this contract with the city, that if we were going to live here all this foul stuff was going to happen and we were agreeing to deal with it. I still feel like that sometimes. This one reminds me of that."
2.23.06 Harold Hunter RIP
"The newspaper text here isn't Harold Hunter's obituary; I think it's actually a Page Six blurb that they wrote a few days after he passed, which is strange. Harold was friend of mine from skating when I was young, and he really was one of the best people I've ever known. Pure of heart."
5.13.06 Cherry Valence
7.5.06 Next Time
"Something about this one speaks to the loneliness of this whole project. Everything you see in these collages was lost, thrown away, or forgotten."
8.23.06 It's Very Important
"This one has it all if you look close."
Kenan Juska: Daily Operation will be on view at Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation. Come to the opening reception this Sunday, August 17, from 5 to 8 PM, with an afterparty to follow.