Olayami Dabls, Camille Norment, Ragnhild Aamås, Bern Porter, No Gods No Parents, Thumbs Up and John Olson


INCA: Institute for Neo-Connotative Action
750 Delaware St, Detroit, MI, 48202
July 29 2011
Curated by Bergman & Salinas


Salon #01.

Hannah Arendt wrote that the art of being happy among “small things,” within the space of our own four walls where we extend a “care and tenderness which, in a world where rapid industrialization constantly kills off the things of yesterday to produce today’s objects, may appear to be the world’s last, purely humane corner.” Le petit bonheur of the private sphere is one of the few instances where irrelevant activity is tolerated. In the res publica, use-value must be clear and immediate. Artistic production rarely satisfies these terms. Contemporary art exists in an unstable position because it occasionally draws blockbuster crowds and high auction prices, but for the most part, it is an irrelevant activity confined to private spaces such as artists studios.

In a place like Detroit it would appear that art is highly irrelevant. However, one of the strongest movements in Detroit is the urban agricultural movement which likewise appears to be inconsequential labor compared to the larger movements of industry and capital. But the re-assessment of urban space, food distribution models and self-empowerment is reified in the lush vegetable gardens of downtown Detroit. A community garden is the physical evidence of a thought. Eating a fresh tomato salad is both an aesthetic and an essential action.

While the gravity and immediacy of the post-industrial landscape seems to demand a return to the pride of homo faber in order to combat the alienation of homo laborans, a stubborn belief in the modern distinction between intellectual and manual labor is not useful. These two labor forms are not necessarily opposites. This is especially true when we consider that an art praxis is one of the few remaining disciplines enjoying unalienated labor.

A salon is a bridge between the public and the private, the didactic and the social. Through free and generous exchange of information, participants navigate facts, evidence, and points of view and the events of a small gathering can potentially enter and influence the public sphere.

Bergman/Salinas 2011


Food by Cafe Sonshine

Cafe Sonshine, in the same neighborhood as INCA, is a Soul Food restaurant that employs 7 teens and young adults. The restaurant serves a dual purpose–as a job training site for teens and young adults and as a store providing healthy food for the community.

Cafe Sonshine works in collaboration with “Peaches and Greens”: a neighborhood vegetable shop with community urban gardens and a food truck.


“Iron Teaching Rocks How To Rust” 2006. Assemblage of found objects, paint.

Olayami Dabls is a sculptor, installation artist and director of the the African Bead Museum in Detroit. Dabls has been working as an artist for 45 years and has just been selected as one of the 2011 Kresge Artist Fellows.
His work is of is on display as permanent outdoor installations around the African Bead Museum on a piece of forgotten land next to the Lodge Freeway in downtown Detroit where he has assembled narratives of material heritage


“Triplight” 2008. Light sculpture 1955 Shure microphone, light, electronic components dimensions variable.

Camille Norment was born in 1970 in Silver Spring, Maryland, studied at the University of Michigan and lived and worked in New York City for 12 years before relocating to Oslo, Norway in 2004. Norments extensive international fine arts exhibition credits include the Thessaloniki Biennial, Greece (2007),
Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway; the Charlottenborg Fonden, Copenhagen, Denmark; the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.; the Studio Museum of Harlem,
New York, NY; UKS Gallery, Oslo, Norway; the Bildmuseet, in Umeå, Sweden, and radio broadcast in the Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy.

The 1955 Shure Microphone is a cultural cliché of African-American blues singers, 1950s rock music, and symbolic reference to ‘the American dream’ or ‘golden years’. The microphone housing contains a bright piercing light which casts a large shadow of metal mask or ribcage onto the wall; the golden light reveals the shadow of oppression. Periodically at random intervals, the light flickers, catching the viewer off-guard and re-inforcing the unstable negotiation between the experience of the body and its articulation through voice.

The word ‘triplight’ refers to a trigger that sets off a state of alarm. It also refers to “trip the light fantastic”, a historical reference to a type of dance, and more recently a state of hallucination. (Text by Norment)


“Nothing Seems to Sustain Me More” 2011. Audio recording of the artist performing her text.

Ragnhild Aamås is a young Norwegian artist working with text and voice. She studied philosophy at the University of Oslo completed her MFA at Oslo National Academy of Fine Art in 2012. This piece is based on found text from an internet search for the title phrase. Although disembodied, individual dreams and fears float in the internets seas.


“No Gods No Parents” Text on paper, archive works.

No Gods No Parents is a research project initiated by Linus Elmes, Director of UKS Art Center, Oslo. Collecting facsimile material to be published in an Encyclopaedia with the working title “No Gods, No Parents”, the intention is to reflect the experience of autonomous artistic practice. The aim is to reveal the unconscious cognitive system of individual artists, curators, thinkers and others involved in the self-organized and artist run scene. No Gods No Parents is a collection of existing documents of various forms, such as: invitations, manifestos, proposals, lists, applications, correspondence, legal and financial statements, formal requests and letters of intent.


“Scandinavian Summer” 1961. Artist book printed in faxsimile.
“The Last Acts of Saint Fuck You” 1985. Audio recording of Bern Porter performing his text.

Bern Porter (1911–2004) was an artist, writer, philosopher, and scientist working for NASA and was involved with the invention of television. In 2010 Porter had a posthumous retrospective exhibition in a forlorn basement mezanine at the MOMA in New York. His early and prolific use of “found poetry” and an “anti-precious” aesthetic is gaining dedicated fans.

“The xeroxing of copyrights” is a line taken from his “Last Acts…” and could describe his aesthetic and intellectual stance.


“Thumbs Up”

Thumbs Up is Detroit’s premier Velvet Underground ukulele cover band. Band members Todd Breadon and Steve Christensen could be considered masters of the genre.


“Horn solo” Live acoustic noise composition.

John Olson runs the record label American Tapes and is a member of Wolf Eyes. He has released his music on labels such as American Tapes, Hanson Records, Troubleman Unlimited, Burned Mind, Human Animal and Sub Pop and he has toured the world.
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