It’s been a big year for Transformer. Not only are they about to throw their 13th annual silent action and benefit party this Saturday, but they’re in the midst of their 15th anniversary. We caught up with Victoria Reis to give you a little sneak peak of the magic that’s in store. Whether you’ve been going to these events since Transformer first opened, or you have almost no idea what’s going on, this is not an event to be missed.
May – December by Adrienne Gaither
How is this year’s auction different / how is it the same?
This is the 13th Annual Auction and a celebration of Transformer’s 15 year anniversary. The Italian Ambassador is our diplomatic chair this year – highlighting year long collaboration with the Italian Embassy in D.C., and artistic exchange with artists and art spaces in Rome and D.C. There’s a Fellini inspired “closing of the lots” performance and a VIP reception for the host committee & sponsor hosted by Centrolina.
There’s more than 175 works up for silent bidding this year – I think we actually have 190 works! We say this every year – but I truly feel this is our best selection of work up for bidding yet.
The installation in the entryway by Matt Hollis will carry through a theme of a fantasy Venetian garden. It’s our third year at Katzen. We’re highlighting a museum collaboration over two years old with AU Fine Arts Dept & Transformer. The Martha Wilson & Franklin Furnace exhibition I curated just opened at AU Saturday. We also have a Martha Wilson work in the auction.
How were this year’s auction items chosen?
We have a nominating committee every year made up mostly of artists, some curators, who nominate artists for inclusion. Staff (full time & Auction Artwork Coordinator – this year Dawne Langford) also nominates artists. Nominated artists are invited to submit work for consideration. Staff then selects work to include in the Auction.
The Art of Sealing Ends Pt. II by Nakeya Brown
Any highlights from the auctions / pieces of art you wish you yourself could grab?
The Martha Wilson. I’m also in love with the Nakeya Brown, The Renato D’Agostin (Italian artist), Edgar Endress’ piece is gorgeous (and incredible starting bid price!). Yar Koporulin’s wall hanging piece is pretty incredible, the Jason Gubbiotti piece is gorgeous, and Adrienne Gaither’s piece is an incredible deal.
How did the collaboration between Marta and you come about?
Martha Wilson & Franklin Furnace have been my long time mentors. Martha was on the Board of Directors at NAAO (the National Association of Artists’ Organizations) when I worked there and it was my first job in D.C. I started as an intern in 1991 and worked my way up to Director of Programs before leaving in 1998. I then founded Transformer in early 2002.
The field of artists’ organizations, and in particular Franklin Furnace, inspired the launch of Transformer and now we’re celebrating our 15th exhibition year.
NAAO is also a precursor to Common Field, a new national network of artist run and artist driven spaces and projects – Martha & I are both founding members. Common Field just had their national convening in Miami and Martha sits on their advisory council.
I was inspired to curate the Do You Know Where Your Art Comes From? exhibition series by a keynote address Martha gave at an early Common Field event – the Hand in Glove convening Common Field co-hosted in New Orleans in 2013.
Martha Wilson and Franklin Furnace is the last exhibition in this series which has taken place at the AU Museum over the past two years. Our previews exhibits include Locally Sourced, Exploring Social Practice, and Southern Constellations.
Chrysanthemum by Martha Wilson
The collaboration with Italy continues. Can you tell us a little more about the Andrea Polichetti involvement?
Andrea is one of the first artists we met while Transformer was in Rome this spring presenting D.C. artists in exhibition and lectures at universities. Andrea connected us to many of his peer artists who are being featured in the auction. We invited Andrea to create a site responsive piece for our annual storefront installation – something we have presented each November the past several years while our internal exhibition space is receiving and storing auction artworks. He created a stunning installation that references an international perspective on recent US elections.
What are some of the upcoming Transformer events we should all be excited about and whom is this helping support?
Our next exhibition is a solo exhibition with D.C. area artist Johab Silva.
Our February and March exhibition focusing on ecto & spiritual photography with Chandi Kelley & Marissa Long.
And beyond that, exhibitions are being determined. The beauty of Transformer is we don’t plan too far out so that we can be responsive to artists and issues they are addressing. I anticipate more radical performance art like we presented throughout our recent Defy/Define exhibition. And of course continued national & international collaborations. We are in conversation with Arts.Black to have them take over Transformer’s space at some point in 2017. We are also in conversation with the Hirshhorn about a big public project there this summer.
Auction money keeps our overall operations going, and now more than ever, since we’re just 15 blocks from the White House, our operations and mission to connect and promote emerging artists – the disrupters, the questioners, the change-makers – is more vital than ever.
Not a Bear by Yar Koporulin